Do Gun Shows Have Loopholes?

Thursday's Nashville Tennessean newspaper's lead story headline is "NY slams gun show u2018loophole' in Tenn." The story is about a purported undercover investigation of gun shows done by the City of New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been an anti-gun activist.

Apparently, Bloomberg sent investigators to gun shows in Tennessee and other states, using tiny hidden cameras to record what they considered illegal activity. They allege that guns from Southern states are regularly found to be used in felonies in New York, and that it is too easy for criminals to buy guns at gun shows.

The article spotlighted one gun show held in Nashville that attracts 250 gun dealers and up to 10,000 people every month. Gun dealers must be licensed by the Bureau or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Background checks on buyers must be performed by dealers. Penalties for selling guns to felons can include fines and imprisonment for the dealer.

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The New York investigation showed that most dealers were law-abiding and that most sales were legitimate. So, where is this alleged "loophole" in the law?

It's found in individual liberty and property rights.

Any of the attendees at a gun show are free to offer their own guns for sale to any other attendee. They may not represent themselves as dealers under penalty of law. But nothing prevents them from striking up a conversation with another attendee and offering to sell a privately owned firearm. They also don't have to be bothered with the firearms registration paperwork that a dealer must complete.

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I've seen this every time I've attended a gun show. There are people walking around with guns on their shoulders with a "for sale" sign attached to the gun. And any time a sale is made by an individual, they simply take their transaction out to the parking lot where the money and firearm changes hands. It is a completely legal transaction between two individuals.

No background checks need be done when an individual sale is made. So there is the possibility that an individual could sell a firearm to a felon without the seller's knowledge. There is also a chance that a buyer could make a firearm purchase on behalf of another person.

But it seems to me that the only "remedy" for this "loophole" is to pass a federal law which only allows firearms to be bought and sold through licensed dealers. And a law like that would be no remedy at all. It would violate individual property rights in a chilling way. It would also be unconstitutional, but that has not ever slowed federal and state lawmakers from passing legislation that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.

The solution for crime reduction is rescinding all gun laws that prohibit or restrict the rights of any person to keep and bear arms. Armed populations are polite populations. Ask Switzerland. Criminals are far less likely to commit a crime when there is the likelihood that the victim (or someone nearby) will be armed.

So, three cheers for individual liberty and property rights! Hip, Hip, Hurrah!

October 10, 2009

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