A few weeks back we wrote a column about the issues being debated regarding potentially restricting the rights of gun owners established by the second amendment. The column was generally well received, but there was one point of contention that remains the center of debate regarding gun owners’ rights -- especially with the flaming out of Senator Feinstein’s bill on what she refers to as “assault weapons.” We need to correct this point and we discuss the issue in greater depth.
We stated that, as someone not clearly on either the side of Gun Nuts or the Anti-Gun Nuts, we could potentially agree with one point being made to restrict gun rights. We stated, “The only proposal we can see as logical is the expansion of background checks. Logic makes us question why you have to go through a background check if you go to a gun shop or Wal-Mart, but if you attend a gun show you don’t have to go through a check.”
We checked everywhere and listened to every argument, but it turned out we just blew it. Having never attended a gun show, we did not have first-hand knowledge that if you purchase a gun at a gun show you go through the exact same background check you would go through if you were in a gun shop. There are phones set up to do the same checks and get the same approvals you would normally get anywhere else. No approval – no gun.
We received a barrage of comments from knowledgeable gun owners clarifying what the issue is and how we are being misled by the press and certain members of Congress. The real issue is that private citizens make sales of their own guns at these shows and certain members of Congress want to restrict their rights to sell their own guns.
For the uninitiated, let’s explain what we are dealing with here. Some private owners go to gun shows to sell their private collections. In discussions with multiple readers, they estimate about 10% of sellers at gun shows (there are typically 100 vendors) are private owners. You get the understanding that the people selling these guns are not whack jobs. They appear to be very much on the straight and narrow. Neither can they be disguising themselves as private sellers when they are really dealers as the ATF tracks these things. Are the private sellers offering better deals? Not from what our readers told us. Do people flock to the private dealers? No; not at all. They get no special attention. The remaining question is why do the private citizens pay for a table at a gun show? The answer given was because that is where the gun buyers are – plain and simple. Just like going to a car show to sell your car. Or an airplane show to sell your airplane.
Thus, the debate is solely over one matter. Does the government have the right to restrict a private citizen from selling a product legally obtained to another private citizen? Obviously, a private citizen is not set-up to do a background check like a dealer. That would certainly be a matter that is particularly inconvenient under the current system, but the Gun Nuts say they should not be held to a higher standard than someone selling other private property legally obtained. The Anti-Gun Nuts feel they are closing a loophole that will help to solve the problem of gun violence in this country.
We remain skeptical on this. As long as we are not advancing the issue of mental health restrictions, we believe that background checks serve limited purpose. We also still maintain that criminals get guns in ways we cannot even imagine. There will be little if any increased security to passing a law requiring universal background checks because it will stop few if any of the two suspect groups from obtaining a gun. We are seriously put off by a President who tells the public that up to 40% of all guns are sold without a background check. That seems ludicrous on its face based on the information above.
We will leave it to you to judge whether the Gun Nuts have a point about it restricting the rights of private citizens in regard to their private property. We will just state the Anti-Gun Nuts have seriously oversold this as a remedy to our problems.