Yesterday the news was awash in coverage of the meeting in congress from families of the Virginia Tech massacre. These folks were asking congress to pass federal law aimed at making private sales at gunshows go through a background check. This seems to come up several times a year, so I'll address some of the issues with this.
The main argument against is that there are tens of millions of gun owning Americans that will not be told that they cannot sell their personal property to another American unless they get government approval for the transaction. This is entirely missed by advocates of new federal law. If I want to sell my Marlin .22 rifle to my brother, I'll be damned if I'm gonna ask for permission. This goes the same for an AR15 as it does for a Mossberg slug gun.
On top of this is that there is no mechanism in place that I'm aware of that would even allow it to begin with. Can anyone walk me through how Joe Schmucketelly would be able to conduct a background check on John Quincy Public so that he can legally sell him his Colt Peacemaker? Who provides the forms? Who does Joe Schmucketelly call to do the check? Who pays for the call? Who pays the cop who has to conduct the check? Has anyone conducted a study to find out how many Police officers and federal agents will need to be hired for each state to entertain the capacity to do these checks? How will Joe Schmucketelly be required to keep the record, and for how long? Or would somebody else be required to do it? Will ATF agents then be authorized to come to Joe Schmucketelly's house and audit his records? Who is going to provide the training needed to properly and legally assert the forms on the buyer, and who pays for that?
None of this is insurmountable, but how long will it interfere with American's rights until this whole process can be implemented and working smoothly? Do any of these people care?
So really - they might not realize it - they're asking for a fiction, which ultimately means that if congress does pass such a law, and tomorrow an American has to provide for a background check in order to sell a personal firearm to another American, there is no means to do it, so the law becomes a de facto gun ban. Raise your hand if you want to be the person to tell America that their personal property is now frozen in place.
The obvious elephant in the room is that despite what the "panel of experts" (snicker) found in their report in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, the scumbag murderer did not buy firearms from a gun show. I saw on the news last night, and can't seem to find it this morning, a reporter talking about how the two murderers at the Columbine massacre bought their firearms at a gun show, which is flat out wrong. Three of their guns were purchased at a gun show by an 18 year old girl who would have passed any such background check, and the fourth was sold to them by a friend, which was already illegal and would not be any more so with the passage of new federal law.
The thing that grinds in the minds of gun owners is that there is no "loop hole" in the law; a gun dealer that wants to sell guns at a gun show has to conduct a background check, and they are licensed by the federal government who provides the infrastructure to conduct that service. Those advocating the passing of new federal law are saying that the government will have to provide for the licensing and service to tens of millions of people. This would ultimately create a massive federal agency. Maybe that is their secret hope.
Turning my mind to the offense, would that mean that every Tom, Dick, and Harry that wanted to sell a firearm would need to be licensed by the federal government in order to have access to the N.I.C.S.? If I have to have a license to sell a gun, than by selling the gun aren't I now acting in a public capacity, and not a private one? Doesn't that make me bona fide gun dealer? Wouldn't that enable me to buy directly from the wholesaler, or possibly even the manufacturer? Do these folks really want tens of millions of bona fide gun dealers able to buy and sell as they please from Smith and Wesson, without regard for quantity? How many federal, state, and local gun laws would that render obsolete with the swipe of a blue pen?
The anti-gun folks may not realize how well they have it right now. Best leave the hornet's nest alone.