The Gunshow Loophole

Apparently the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, spent $100,000 of the city’s money to send “investigators” to Arizona to purchase guns at a gunshow. I have been told that this was actually illegal since the investigators, with no authority beyond that of any other citizen in Arizona, went out of state to purchase guns. This may or may not be true but here is the upshot. No law was broken and there is no “gunshow loophole.”

A federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) receives his license through the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and they have VERY strict rules that the BATFE is VERY strict about. The BATFE sent a man to prison for loaning, unbeknown to him, an intermittently malfunctioning rifle to a friend (the gun had a slam fire, a sort of malfunction that causes the gun to fire until it is out of ammunition). The loaning of the rifle was considered a transfer and the rifle was considered a machine gun. They had to find ammunition with soft primers to duplicate the malfunction. I believe the man is still in prison. All that to say, if the BATFE gives you rules you follow them, period. And people do. The FFL must comply with all regulations regardless of venue. In the store, at the gunshow, it doesn’t matter.

Now, the purchases made by mayor Bloomberg’s “investigators” were not subject to a background check because it was one private citizen selling his legally owned possessions to another citizen. This is the supposed “loophole.” Since people go to gunshows to buy or sell guns the idea is that a felon could buy from a citizen there since a private citizen is not required to do any special checks to sell his own property. I have read some pretty remarkable claims about how many criminals are getting their guns from gunshows but I haven’t seen anyone citing where these numbers are coming from. However this is NOT a loophole. The claim is that a felon can legally purchase a firearm at a gunshow but that simply is factually incorrect. It is illegal for firearms to be transfered to prohibited persons. And that isn’t some little city ordinance that your violating if you do. It’s Federal.

So we can have the discussion about what the second amendment actually means and what is best for our country with respect to firearms and how we regulate them but the discussion is meaningless when the “facts” discussed are at best misrepresentations of the truth.

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