Oh, no! The dreaded ‘Gun Show Loophole’!


(A version of this column appears in the Feb. 10 edition of “Firearms News,” formerly “Shotgun News.”)

Having shown a jaw-dropping inability to understand what would happen if sick people were allowed to buy “You’re not allowed to ask me about pre-existing conditions” health insurance, pile their medical bills on the insurance companies till said sick people are cured, and then drop their coverage (or did the clever politicians actually mean to bankrupt this entire industry?), Barack Obama and his faithful companions leapt into their saddles, declared “Our work here is done!” and rode off into the sunset.


Unfortunately, though — very much as was the case with the Adventures of the Lone Ranger — another Saturday morning always rolls around, the booming strains of the William Tell Overture beckon us once again to revisit those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, and it turns out Barack Obama and gang aren’t really gone, at all. No, they’re back, looking for something else to Mess Up Real Good.

Public opinion polls show the American public is starting to see through the hysterical drum-beating and fake “gun death” statistics. (Hint: subtract the gun suicides of sick and lonely senior citizens, and then compare our homicide rates to those of countries with far harsher “gun control” laws, including Mexico and Venezuela.) In an America where more law-abiding people than ever own guns -– and violent crime rates have thus been dropping for years -– polls show dwindling support for “weapons bans” of any kind.

So, racing to the head of the parade, Barack Obama started out the year calling for restored marksmanship classes in the public high schools, while ordering the ATF to again allow the re-importation of surplus military firearms including Browning Automatic Rifles for sale at cost to law-abiding American “civilians,” right?

No, no, of course not. Just joking. You thought these guys swore some kind of oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which informs us that a well-armed citizen militia, more powerful than any force that can be raised, on any pretext, by the central government, is “necessary to the security of a free state”?

No, by the time this issue sees print, it’s been reliably predicted that -– fed up with a do-nothing Congress that declines to further violate the Second and Fourteenth amendments with “gun control” schemes that have zero chance of reducing violent crime — Barack Obama will have sternly denounced and called for an end to the “gun show loophole.”

You can own it, but you can’t sell it

What is the “gun show loophole”? It’s very simple. Firearms dealers with Federal Firearms Licenses -– that is to say, anybody who sells more than a few guns a year and is thus judged to be “in the business” -– are required to conduct a background check on any gun buyer without a special concealed-carry license (which they can only acquire by undergoing, yep, a “background check”), no matter where the sale takes place -– including at gun shows.

How is this justified? Because such dealers have “applied for a federal license” (“voluntarily,” you understand, since if they don’t “volunteer” they can be sent to prison), this is simply made a condition of retaining their license . . . and not going to prison.

But if an average citizen with no such “FFL” -– a police officer’s widow, say -– wants to sell off her late husband’s old hunting rifle, she’s allowed to do so without conducting a “background check.” (In fact, up till now she’d probably have had a hard time even accessing the “background check” system.)

Now it’s true, fewer and fewer such “private sellers” who merely wish to get some cash out of their small, private collections can afford the table rents at big gun shows. But a few such sellers could sell a firearm -– usually a big hunting rifle or a clunky, 20-pound military surplus turn-bolt rifle, also suitable for use as a club -– at a gun show, and the buyer theoretically could walk out the door without having undergone a “background check” (the same as if they’d bought that firearm on the owner’s front porch.) So Barack Obama apparently plans to simply declare such widow-ladies must obey the same rules as a full-time “FFL” dealer . . . or go to prison.

Which should immediately stop all these violent crimes in which people rob convenience stores and shoot each other with scoped hunting rifles or 20-pound World War One surplus Enfield rifles, of which last year alone we had . . . wait a minute, I’m sure I had that statistic here, somewhere. Well, I’ll just have to get back to you on that.

Will the courts rule that such an “executive order” -– designed to bypass Congress — somehow fails to “infringe” our right to keep and bear arms, even though it’s designed to make it harder to sell a firearm, thus making firearms a less attractive investment?

I would no longer dare to guess, the Constitution being a document now likely to be consulted by the courts only on those rare days when the wind blows southerly, and the justices can tell a hawk from a handsaw.

Which branch should violate the Constitution?

Speaking of “the polls,” an anti-gun outfit called “Rasmussen Reports” conducted a public opinion poll last fall, asking the following four questions:

1) Does the United States need stricter gun control laws?

2) Should there be a ban on the purchase of semi-automatic and assault type weapons?

3) Suppose that only government officials such as the police and military personnel were allowed to have guns. Would that be good for America or bad for America?

4) Should laws regarding the ownership of guns be the responsibility of the federal government, state governments or local governments?

What was the result? Who cares? Look at the QUESTIONS.

In response to the question asking which level of government should take the lead in restricting gun ownership, where’s the opportunity for a respondent to say “No laws regarding or restricting the ownership of guns are permitted by the U.S. Constitution with its Second Amendment, and the 14th Amendment extends this restriction to the states. So isn’t this kind of a trick question, like asking whether laws requiring the imprisonment of mixed-race couples, or laws requiring the internment of religious minorities in concentration camps, should be ‘the responsibility of the federal government, state governments, or local governments’?”

If a respondent answers Question One by saying “All current gun laws should be repealed,” will that be reported? Highly unlikely. There won’t be any appropriate box for the poll-taker to check, will there? So that respondent will merely be cited as someone who says we don’t need stricter gun-control laws, implying all current laws are fine.

In this way, such “polls” slant the results, not merely discouraging but disallowing and refusing to report accurate, knowledgeable, common-sense replies.

“Should there be a ban on semi-automatic and assault-type weapons?” the pollsters ask. What happens if the person being interviewed replies “Which do you mean? Assault-type weapons are select-fire; they’re classified as fully automatic machine guns and are hard as heck for the average citizen to acquire, right now. Hasn’t the BATF’s unconstitutional ban on the new manufacture of machine guns for ‘civilian’ use in this country raised the price of most such weapons up into the tens of thousands of dollars? Am I being asked whether only rich collectors willing to be fingerprinted and pay a $200 tax per firearm should have fully automatic or select-fire ‘assault’ weapons? Isn’t that already the case?

“Or am I being asked whether the self-reloading, one-round-per-trigger-pull M-1 carbine or M-1 Garand that grandpa carried in Normandy or the Ardennes in 1944 should be banned? If so, why throw “and assault type weapons” into the question — just to encourage the uninformed to think you’re only asking about AK-47s and M-16s and British Bren guns that “spray lead like a garden hose”?

Vin Suprynowicz was for 20 years an award-winning syndicated columnist and editorial writer for the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. He’s the author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and a new novel about the War on Drugs, “The Miskatonic Manuscript.” He blogs at www.vinsuprynowicz.com .

4 Comments to “Oh, no! The dreaded ‘Gun Show Loophole’!”

  1. JdL Says:

    Excellent, Vin!

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  3. Rob Says:

    Again, Vin, you’ve hit the nail on the head. And again, only the choir is listening.
    Too bad you can’t get elected as President, you tell the truth too much.

  4. NotChuck Says:

    When Hellary is elected, will she go back to Bill’s ATF policies which began denying FFL issuances and renewals to “Mom and Pop” dealers who didn’t have a storefront, on the grounds that they weren’t really in the business? What’s a poor police widow to do?