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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for February 12th, 2013

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

To the general public, the proposal to end private transfers of firearms appears sensible and harmless.

Professionals in the field know otherwise.

My friend Steve Denney, host of the ProArms Podcast  had the following to say in a blog comment here recently. Steve has decades of experience in public safety service – SWAT cop and police supervisor, among other things, and now manager of the ProArms Gun Shop – and his advice is born in wisdom. It bears repeating.

Those who think “universal” background checks are an acceptable compromise should keep in mind that the government, meaning BATFE, already considers that any change of possession of a firearm constitutes a “transfer.” Unless universal background checks are limited to permanent change of ownership of a firearm, simply loaning a gun to someone, sharing a gun with someone in your family (such as a family heirloom) or agreeing to store someone’s guns (such as a family member who needs to leave guns behind during a military deployment or a temporary business transfer), would all require a background check, and the resultant fees, each time the guns change hands. If the checks were only required on actual change of ownership, it could be workable. But allowing for non-ownership transfers (without a background check) would then be seen as another “loophole” by the anti-gun people. Any such compromise would need to be carefully researched by people knowledgeable of how the “system” works, or the unintended consequences could be unnecessarily burdensome. So far, analysis of laws by knowledgeable people seems problematic.

We keep hearing that 40% of gun acquisitions are made without background checks. While that figure strikes me as somewhat high (and the research behind it awfully weak), understand that it includes gifts from parents and friends. Guns are popular retirement gifts in law enforcement, for example. It also includes a great many inherited guns.  I cherish the guns bequeathed to me by my father and grandfather, and my will provides for significant other, my kids, and some friends to get mine when I’m gone. These would now be subject to government-recorded transfer if the proposed new laws pass.  Indeed, depending how those laws are worded, you’d need to go through a government-approved transfer to LOAN your rifle to your brother to go deer hunting, or your shotgun to a neighbor to take to the range for a round of Obama-approved skeet shooting, as Steve wisely pointed out.

The newspapers are full of the fact that during the recent surge of panic buying, the NICS system for background check was hellaciously backed up, with waits that ranged from hours to days for the promised and legally mandated “instant check.”  What’s going to happen when that system is overburdened with the huge and sudden increase in traffic that will come if transfers between good, law-abiding people are now subjected to needless background checks?

The proposed “closing of the gun show loophole” is far less simple, and far less benign, than it has been presented to be by the anti-gun crusaders.

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