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Gun show undercover

Posted by Lissa on October 9, 2009

Did anyone else wander by HuffPo and see the story about Mayor Bloomberg’s undercover gun show sting?

I had a few thoughts on this.  In no particular order:

1) Wait, so undercover camera work is GOOD now?  Huh.  Could have fooled me.

2) This is bad, any way you slice it.  This isn’t a private seller making a sale to a private buyer and innocently fumbling a few of the rules; it looks like vendors deliberately dodging laws in order to skip fees.

I understand that gun laws can be stupid, cumbersome, confusing and time-consuming; I’m going through the song-and-dance myself and it’s taking both time and money.  (Thank you Mike for doing the lion’s share of the forms!)  But breaking those rules and laws to make a few bucks, and doing so brazenly, seems to me like A Bad Idea.

If wishes were horses and I had my way, I’d have stupid gun laws pointed out Rosa Parks style, rather than Mayor Bloomberg’s exposé.  I.E., I’d have two law-abiding citizens get up in front of reporters, then have the licensed gun owner hand a bullet to a non-licensed resident, daring anyone to arrest them.

But wishes are not horses.  I’m certainly not volunteering for such a stunt.  I have other, important things to do, like a) not break the law, b) continue to go to my job and earn money, c) cook dinner, d) pet my cat, e) muddle through this state’s confusing restrictions as best I can, etc.

3) First trans-fats and now out-of-state stings.  To me, these seem like odd things for a mayor to concentrate upon.  Shouldn’t he be concentrating on local problems?

You all know I’m a baby gun chick searching for knowledge, so as always I welcome your thoughts.  Enlighten me!

(h/t the Hot Air headlines)


12 Responses to “Gun show undercover”

  1. Brad K. said

    I don’t know, Lissa. It seems you got most of this one right.

    I wonder if Bloomberg will get sued for all the people they didn’t get permission to record?

  2. Yet another case of “See, bad gun people are doing already illegal stuff. We need to ban guns now!” bull stuff.

    Keep in mind that these are the same people who believe such fantacys as criminals turning in their guns if they just get that gun ban passed that they always wanted, or a “no guns allowed” sign on the door will keep the liquor store from being robbed. Like the criminal is going to say “dang, guess I can’t rob this one, it would be illegal to take a gun in there”.

    As for Rosa Parks, It takes a special person to participate in that form of protest. Those people are, unfortuneately, all too rare in this world and are to be treasured. The rest of us have lives to live that get in the way of our moral concience. It isn’t dishonorable to be part of that vast majority, it’s just a little humbling for the thinking person to realize that they are.


    btw. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

  3. Mike said

    I think it’s worse than simply trying to avoid fees. The “private individuals” clearly think they’re selling guns to criminals, so it appears they’re doing that.

    Aside from the legal and moral ramifications, it’s a pretty good marketing plan. The dealers in question found a segment–criminals–not being served by law-abiding dealers and tailored their services accordingly. Clearly, we need more laws to stop these guys from breaking the existing ones.

  4. Wally said

    I saw the piece and I think it was a serious edit job and a very slanted narrative.

    The folks selling guns without “paper” are private citizens, not federally licensed gun dealers. A private citizen CAN NOT check the background on another citizen. There is no system in place to let you get the dirt on anyone you please. A dealer MUST check the background. Simple as that. A private citizen can sell as many guns as he wants. If he buys guns to resell, only at that point must he become federally licensed.

    In the audio, they never refer to the sellers as ‘dealers’ or ‘licensed dealers’, but IIRC ‘amateur dealers’ and things of that ilk. The guy at the gun show with 400 knives and two guns on his table? Think he is a licensed gun dealer?

    And as to the one guy who jokes about not being able to pass a background check, that DOES NOT mean you are inelligible. Case in point – Me. Whenever I get the instant check from a dealer, I do not EVER get approved. Always comes back as ‘delayed’. What this means is I have to go to the dealer’s shop 1 week later to get my gun. A royal pain in the tail if I find a good deal at a gun show, or if I am somewhere travelling throughout my homestate.

    And one more thing – if we close the gun show loophole, it will not be legal to lend or borrow guns. If you want to borrow my P239, you cant. It has to go on an official transfer, with background check, etc. Oh, sorry, you are a resident of another state ? That means we cannot transfer handguns at all. The “GSLoophole” is smoke and mirrors.

    True story: I am at my local dealer’s shop picking up a machine gun and a silencer – paperwork had already cleared. Spur of the moment, I decide to buy a glock. The Glock transaction comes back as “delayed”. The machine gun and silencer have already cleared…. so I went out the door with the evil naughty bits and had to come back a week later for the combat tupperware.

    • Wally said

      Oh I probably should have clarified that I am eligible to own and buy guns, clean record, etc – just the system always flags me as a suspicious charachter. Never been denied, just always get the 7-day delay.

    • Mike said

      The delay, in your case, is pretty silly. Maybe there was some mix-up the first time (someone with a similar name and whatnot), but one would think they could clean it up without requiring a manual override every time. The end result is that you pass, though, so you aren’t in same category as someone who doesn’t.

      I agree with you on the effects of “closing the loophole,” but that doesn’t mean existing rules shouldn’t be enforced. Someone selling two guns at a show is very different from the one selling a few hundred a year (even if the latter holds down another job and sells guns on the side, it would seem to be a business), but even the amateur is bound by some rules. I can see why you think the whole background check system is a joke, but there’s no real loophole if someone says they don’t think they’d pass a background check. Most reasonable people–and that’s the typical legal test–would take that to mean they have convictions of some sort that disqualify them.

      Anyone who ignores the existing laws and sells to disqualified individuals is pretty much inviting gun control advocates to enact more restrictions. You know that’s what Bloomberg wants, so why defend the people helping him?

      It’s clear that you support the right to self defense (and gun ownership), so don’t give our opponents the ammunition–sorry for the terrible pun–to win the fight. Someone who undermines our rights–intentionally or not, as with the guilty sellers–is still undermining them and undeserving of our support.

  5. Wally said

    I can’t get my status check cleared up since the whole system is confidential. They can’t tell me why I get flagged, just that I do.

    Outside of Mass, with their particular face-to-face rules (and both parties needing a LTC – thus the background checks contained therein), private party sales are cash and carry. I am unaware of any rule that requires you to know, suspect, or care that the buyer can pass a background check. The person in the wrong is the disqualified purchaser who buys private to avoid the system.

    If you are selling guns as a business, you need the federal license. If you want to buy handguns out of state (and direct from dealers and distributors) you’ll need the license. If you deicde to buy a few guns, shoot them, get tired of them, and sell them, or sell off your 5000 personally owned guns, there are no restrictions. [again, outside of MA, with their only 4 gun a year rule]

    How would we go about forcing a background check on a private party sale? Who would I call to find out your history? And that system that contains personal data is open to the public?

    Not trying to be stubborn, but the current system does not require background checks of any form, nor are there any methods in place to even get a background check.

    • Mike said

      The private seller doesn’t need to run a background check, but can’t go through with the transaction if he/she has reason to believe the buyer wouldn’t pass a hypothetical background check. If you don’t know anything, you’re fine, but if a hypothetical buyer–like Bloomberg’s goons–told you they couldn’t pass such a check, your obligation is to walk away. Someone selling guns at a show should know that.

      This is entirely different from the issue of whether these are good rules, but the supposed rationale is you shouldn’t be selling guns to people you know are criminals. It’s sort of like “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the sense that nothing is wrong until the buyer says they couldn’t pass the check. That’s why they casually threw it out there in the “sting.”

      • Wally said

        With the sting, after all the shows they hit, the only thing that made the edit was one guy chuckling about how he couldn’t pass the background check. Nothing more incriminating to be found?

        And keep in mind there is a difference between ‘pass the background check’ and ‘disqualified individual’. I am a walking case of the former but not the latter.

        And to think, for all of the cars I have sold, I have never asked the purchaser if they would obey all traffic laws. Hmn.

      • Mike said

        The reason they edited it that way is that it’s what makes any sales to him illegal.

        I hear you on the frustrations about the law, but 3 points:

        1. You PASS the checks, just not immediately. Someone who says they don’t think they’d pass means they would fail the check, not have it get held up for 7 days and then given the all clear.

        2. You don’t have to ask them about their intended use or whether they have a clean background as I understand the law.

        3. The line about cars sounds like you think the private gun sale rules are silly, but somewhere along the way my point was that people ignoring them only invites liberals to pass even more restrictive ones. It may not be logical, but it’s what they’re going to do.

      • Wally said

        Eh, that edit did not make the sale illegal. It was at attempt at making people believe it was illegal. I would invite you to identify which law was broken when the buyer said he ‘probably couldn’t pass’ and the seller continued with the sale.

        And I do not pass the checks. There are 3 results returned for checks – ‘approved’ ‘denied’ and ‘delayed’. Approved and denied are obvious. Delayed means not approved, not denied. After 7 days, if there has been no denial, the sale can proceed. And please note the subtelty here – the sale proceeds without an approved background check.

        My basic premise is that there were no laws broken on the sting video. There was selective editing and leading narration to make it sound evil. A marvelous PR job. I would ask you to cite what laws are being broken in the video. It may take some time, as I believe there were no violations. Agreed that we should follow the rules, and I believe the sellers in the video certainly did that.

  6. Dr. Feelgood said

    Wally, Gun Control Act Of 1968, Title I, Sec. 922, subsection d.

    Your definition of “reasonable cause to believe” may differ. A judge may agree with your position, but I’m certain he will agree with mine.

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