The gun show loophole is a term that’s been tossed around loosely by anti-gun activists for two decades, or so.
But, just what is it?
First, defining the term loophole is necessary: a law addressing a certain issue that can be circumvented, because of a technical defect in the said law. Relative to gun shows, the term infers something underhanded takes place at gun shows.
The root of the hype stems from the fact that some sellers of firearms are exempt from federal licensing requirements at gun shows. This is true. But, since 1938, those in the business of selling firearms have been required to obtain federal firearms licenses. The operative term is “in the business.”
It is also true that all existing gun laws apply equally at gun shows as they do to any other place where guns are sold. If a dealer sells a gun from a business location, his home, or from a gun show, the rules are exactly the same. Dealers get authorization from the FBI for the sale only after the FBI runs its instant background check for each sale.
On the other hand, those who are not engaged in the business of selling firearms (average Joe citizen), but who may sell firearms from time to time, are not obligated to obtain the federal firearms licenses required of gun dealers or to contact the FBI before sales. It doesn’t matter where the guns are sold whether at a gun show or from a home. That’s why you may see ads in the newspaper or elsewhere by private individuals selling firearms.
Now comes U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney with bill H.R. 2380 introduced last month titled Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015. With a title like that, one would think it somehow addresses the mythical perception being perpetuated by political opportunists. Instead, it attempts to make gun-show compliance more onerous for operators. By so doing, some legitimate gun sells may just give up.
With the understanding of what a gun show loophole is – and, is not – here’s the bill, which has a counterpart in the U.S. Senate.
Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015
- Amends the federal criminal code to make it unlawful for any person to operate a gun show unless such person: (1) has attained 21 years of age; (2) is not prohibited from transporting, shipping, or receiving firearms and has not violated any federal firearms requirements; (3) has registered with the Attorney General as a gun show operator and has provided a photograph and fingerprints; (4) has not concealed material information nor made false statements in connection with a gun show operator registration; and (5) notifies the Attorney General of the date, time, and duration of a gun show not later than 30 days before the commencement of such show and verifies the identity of each vendor at the gun show.
- Imposes recordkeeping requirements on gun show operators and criminal penalties for failure to register as a gun show operator and maintain required records.
- Grants the Attorney General authority to enter the business premises of any gun show operator, without a showing of reasonable cause or a warrant, to examine records and inventory to determine compliance with this Act.
- Increases criminal penalties for serious record keeping violations and violations of criminal background check requirements.
- Authorizes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to hire additional investigators to carry out inspections of gun shows.
In summary, there is no gun show loophole – and, this bill certainly doesn’t address the loophole misconception – then what is this proposed legislation’s purpose?
It would simply create a means to apply more authoritarian pressure on law-abiding citizens to give up their Second Amendment rights and to grow government through meaningless bureaucracy and expense.
It’s one thing government has always been good at doing.
About Glen Wunderlich Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).