Can Hillary Close The Gun Show Loophole? I’m Not So Sure.


One of the planks in Hillary’s new gun control program calls for “closing the gun show loophole,” an issue that has been floating around for years since Dianne Feinstein who has sponsored legislation to regulate gun shows after she entered the Senate in 1992. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around on gun shows, particularly among people who don’t go to gun shows, and this is a good time to clear some misconceptions up.  In particular, the question of whether there’s any real gun-show loophole at all.

hillary2               When most people speak about gun show loopholes what they mean is that anyone can walk into a gun show and get their hands on a gun, legal requirements met or not.  Although many FFL-licensed dealers display and sell their inventory at shows, very few states impose licensing requirements on gun show vendors, as long as individuals who rent tables and sell at shows meet existing local laws on private transfers of guns. And since most states impose very few regulations on private gun transfers, buying a gun without a background check at a gun show is no different from walking across the street and buying a gun from a neighbor or a friend.

What Hillary evidently wants to do is use some kind of executive authority to force all gun show vendors to be licensed dealers which would mean that every gun sold at a gun show would by a show vendor, would have to undergo a background check.  I can’t tell you how many guns I have bought at shows just because I bumped into someone as I was walking around who was carrying a gun that I liked and a word here, a word there, some bills out of my pocket and I own the gun.  And don’t think these kinds of transactions don’t happen in the parking lot outside the show either, because they happen all the time.

If Hillary really believes that she can end private sales at gun shows or anywhere else by using her executive power to define the word ‘dealer,’ one of her staff people should take a look at the Firearms Owners Protection Act that was passed in 1986. This law was passed to define or change sections of the GCA68 law which, because it represented the first time that the feds got into regulating gun commerce in a major way, contained passages and whole sections which nobody could really figure out.  And one of the big issues that was revised was the definition of ‘dealers,’ since the ATF after 1968 had taken the position that anyone selling a gun to anyone else was engaged in gun commerce and therefore came under their control.  Talk about a bureaucracy trying to extend its reach!

What FOPA did was to define a gun dealer as someone “whose time, attention and labor is occupied by dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of an inventory of firearms.”  It also specifically excluded persons who made “occasional” sales or sold guns from “personal collections.”  From my own experience based on wandering through hundreds of gun shows over the last forty years, I can honestly confirm that the FOPA definition fits probably 75% of all the guns I have seen for sale at all those shows. Most of the big-time vendors at gun shows aren’t selling firearms at all.  They go from show to show, maybe do 40 shows a year, and they’re hawking t-shirts, memorabilia, all kinds of junk and crap but they’re not selling guns.

I’m thrilled that Hillary has injected the words ‘gun violence’ into the Presidential campaign.  I hope she ramps up the message because, if nothing else, I’d like to see the ‘stuff happens’ nonsense shoved up where it belongs. But if anyone wants to really get rid of gun violence I’ll continue to say it again and again: It’s the guns, stupid.  It’s the guns.


Gun Sales Are In The Tank But Don’t Expect The NRA To Compromise Its Views Anytime Soon

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Has anyone noticed what’s been happening to the gun business lately?  Smith & Wesson stock has collapsed, it’s trading for about half of the price of just five months’ ago; third-quarter net sales at Ruger dropped from $170 million to $98 million from the same quarter a year ago; and the industry’s most venerable gun maker – Colt – might have closed its doors altogether had it not been saved by a last-minute loan.

Gun sales started to slow down during the summer, which is normally when everyone in the gun industry takes a deep breath and begins planning for the fall and winter months when most of the industry’s sales take place.  But not only didn’t the usual rebound occur after Labor Day, they stayed flat in September and then really began to go South.  If you had purchased 10,000 shares of S&W on June 19, your investment today would be worth less than six thousand bucks. Meanwhile, the Dow during that same five-month period has surged upward by more than six percent.

nics                The gun industry usually uses the monthly NICS background check number to chart sales trends, but lately those numbers simply don’t square with the market conditions that have affected the balance sheets ot companies like Ruger, Colt and Smith.  While NICS checks have certainly dropped from the more than 2 million monthly numbers that were recorded at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, the numbers just published for October showed a slight increase over the previous month and the September number was the second-highest September ever recorded by NICS since the system became fully operational in 1999.

I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret about those NICS numbers.  What they really show is that more gun owners are registering gun transactions with NICS whether they need to or not.  In some states, like Connecticut, NICS calls are much higher because the new law requires that all gun transfers between individuals, not just between dealers and purchasers, go through NICS. New York State, where Andy pushed through a universal background check law right after Sandy Hook, is now running 30,000 checks a month when the state averaged less than 20,000 monthly before Sandy Hook.  Right after Connecticut mandated universal background checks there was stupid talk by Glenn Beck and other NRA apologists about how Connecticut gun owners were going to stage massive disobedience against the registration requirements of the new law.  These are the same [expletive-deleted] loudmouths who never miss the opportunity to remind the rest of us how ‘law abiding’ gun owners tend to be.  Now these law-abiding  patriots are going to start lining up to break the law?  Give me a friggin’ break.

Gun sales have always been a function of one thing and one thing only, namely, a fear among gun owners that the guns are going to be taken away. Right after the World Trade Center attack there was a brief spike in sales, but by the time it was noticed, it had already disappeared.  Even before Obama started talking about a gun bill after Newtown, Dianne Feinstein rolled out her assault rifle ban, and within two weeks you couldn’t find a black gun on any dealer’s shelves. I was selling the Stag AR-15 Model 3 in my shop when I could get them, for a thousand bucks a pop and other dealers were marking them up even more. Today I can go online and buy one for $736.89.

I don’t think the drop-off in gun sales will end anytime soon, particularly now that both legislative chambers in Washington are painted red.  But I also don’t think that the vulnerability of the gun industry will make its leadership more amenable to discussing effective strategies to curb the misuse of guns.  Because the one thing they know above all is that the anticipation of new gun controls will spur sales, but after the law is passed, gun ownership always declines.  If it goes much lower, the gun business will be in for a very rough time.



Want To Stop Gun Violence? Here’s My Plan

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There’s been an unending debate about how to curb gun violence so that we won’t experience more massacres like Sandy Hook.  Whether it’s expanding background checks, or banning hi-cap magazines, or adding mental health data to NICS, there’s no end to the proposals, strategies and  solutions.

But let’s be honest, the truth is that what the gun control folks really want is to get rid of the guns.  Yea, yea, I know that everyone supports the 2nd Amendment.  But the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of gun ownership is about as important to Michael Bloomberg as the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom is to an atheist.  Not that Bloomberg with his billions or Obama with his press conferences have been able to accomplish anything.  But Mike the Gun Guy has a way they could get rid of all the guns without spending another dollar on campaign contributions or infringing on the 2nd Amendment at all.

Take a look at the monthly NICS totals published by the FBI.  The highest monthly number of NICS background checks ever recorded since the system went live in 1998 was December, 2012, when the FBI phone bank received 2,783,765 calls.  The previous month, November, was the first month that the system ever logged more than 2 million calls. Remember what happened in November, 2012?  Someone named Obama got re-elected.  Recall the date of Sandy Hook?  December 16.

Within a six-week period the most liberal, anti-gun President got to sleep in the White House for another four years, and then a mass killing took place that sparked immediate calls for more gun control.  From January 1 until March 31, NICS received another 7 million background check requests, and from November, 2012 through March 2013, total NICS calls almost hit 12 million. No wonder Smith & Wesson announced record revenues for the quarter ending April 30.

But a funny thing began to happen as the gun industry marched along. In May, following the defeat of Manchin-Toomey and other gun control schemes, NICS checks fell to 1,435,917 and in June dropped even further to 1,281,351. The June figure was the lowest since July 2011, and from what I hear and what I see in my shop, the figure for July will be lower still. In other words, since the high-point of last December, the drop is more than fifty percent!  Please don’t post a comment about how NICS numbers can’t be trusted because so many guns can be sold without a background check.  NICS obviously doesn’t cover all transactions, but it does cover virtually every new gun sold for the first time.  So the NICS number may not be absolutely correct, but it’s a very good gauge for understanding sales trends in the gun industry.

If the decline in NICS continues, the FBI will conduct less than a million monthly background checks within the next several months, and by year’s end we could be back down to the pre-9/11 days of George W. Bush.  Boom and bust is typical of the gun industry because spikes in sales are invariably the result of gun owners believing they won’t be able to buy more guns, rather than consumers entering the gun market for the first time.  Surveys seem to indicate that the number of households with guns keeps declining, while the number of guns owned by Americans keeps increasing.  Get it?

Gun sales have doubled from 2006 to 2012, but what the gun control crew should do to reduce the number of guns coming onto the market is to keep their mouths shut.  No more Dianne Feinstein press conferences, no more Michael Bloomberg “straw sales” videos, no more Joe Biden playing Joe Biden.  If gun owners stop worrying about “attacks” on the 2nd Amendment, they’ll stop buying guns.  Less guns out there, less guns get into the wrong hands.  The market can be a much more efficient way to regulate gun behavior than any government plan.

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