Monday, January 3, 2011

Across a table, through a loophole, nothing but hysterics

One of the current tactics of the opponents of freedom is to decry the “gun-show loophole”, where (they say) unlicensed individuals are selling firearms to prohibited persons. Of course, it is legal (federally) for one private citizen to sell to another private citizen, as long as they’re not “in the business” of selling firearms. Now, I’ve never actually been to a gun show, but it they’re anything like other “x-shows” I’ve been to, (or like the descriptions I’ve heard from people who have gone), there are undoubtedly one or two people at any show who could, with a squint and a warrant, be accused of “being in the business” of selling firearms. I will assume for the sake of argument that there are such folks to be found.

“But wait,” I hear from the cheap seats, “that means that someone is breaking the law!” Well, yes. But they don’t have any choice. It used to be, back before the grim days of the Clinton Administration, that we had people who were referred to as “kitchen table” or “gun-show table” dealers. They didn’t have a storefront, but made pocket money by buying and selling firearms on a hobby basis. Many of them had their Federal Firearms License to engage in the trade, and were required to maintain the Aquisitions and Dispositions books, file Form 4473, and otherwise do for each transaction what any other FFL must do. Fast-forward to today, though, and these ‘table dealers are entirely gone from the landscape.

The dearth of 'table dealer FFLs is a direct result of the BATF under Clinton (and, by all appearances, by action from 1600 PA Ave). They used to exist and were driven out of business. The regulations changed such that you had to have a fixed place of business, with fixed hours, &c. If you couldn’t measure up, your license was revoked. Purportedly, this was done “to stop the illegal transfer of firearms at gun shows,” or “in living rooms,” &c. Of course, it really doesn’t matter – an illegal transfer is an illegal transfer, and ‘table FFLs have to do everything that a storefront FFL does in a transaction; if they don’t, the BATF(E) can revoke their FFL no matter where or how they conduct business.

In short, the cause of these “underground” dealers, whose transactions are untraceable, is a regulatory change purported to reduce the number of untraced transactions. How’s that for unintended consequences?

This was part and parcel of the "attrition" strategy of gun control that saw the ranks of FFLs decimated, or worse. One estimate I saw put the number of FFLs in 2000 at 1/10th that of the number in 1990. That’s the flip side of decimation; instead of eliminating 1 in 10, only 1 in 10 survived! This was the actual goal of the change in regulations.

If you want to regulate sales by “small-time” sellers, then how about allowing them to get licensed again? That brings more of the “gun show” or “living room” transactions back into the background check system, making it harder for prohibited persons to obtain guns. But that’s not the goal of the loop-hounds, is it? They would rather stop transactions entirely.


(This started as a response to Sebastian’s “Unintended Consequences” post, but got a little large for a comment box)

1 comment:

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