A few days ago, I posted a link to an editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette debunking the myth of the “gun show loophole”.
Paul Helmke, former Mayor of Fort Wayne, responds in usual fashion: obfuscation, blatant lies, and creative attempts to frame the issue in the way most likely to evoke an emotional response.
I found it incredibly interesting that, throughout the course of his entire diatribe, he fails to support his opening premise:
Aldridge is wrong. The gun show loophole is not a myth but a tragic fact
Which he attempts to support with a bald-faced lie:
one that the killers at Columbine High School exploited 10 years ago before they murdered 12 of their classmates and teachers with the weapons they obtained through unlicensed sellers, without background checks, at a gun show.
FALSE. The Columbine killers did not “obtain [weapons] through unlicensed sellers”. The Columbine killers employed a “straw purchaser” named Robyn Anderson to buy the guns for them. The purchaser later claimed that she wouldn’t have gone through with it had she been required to fill out paperwork and ID herself, but it’s easy to make claims after it’s all over with. The fact is she would have passed a background check either way; therefore, there is no evidence other than hearsay and conjecture, that requiring one would have prevented their act.
This is information well known to the Brady campaign and can be found in their own propaganda (bottom of page 2), indicating that it was an intentional lie, not simply a misunderstanding of the facts.
Next, in response to the editorial’s mention of the 20,000 gun laws in America, Helmke claims that there are only three laws “restricting access to guns”, and then throws in the caveat “at the federal level” almost as an afterthought. You see, that’s what the gun lobby HAS to do in order to have any points to make: they have to move the goalposts. You see, Helmke is well aware that the 20,000 number is accurate because it includes all federal, state and local laws regulating and restricting guns in the US. But in order to try to mask the truth, he claims that the number is false, and then cites an answer to a completely different question to give the illusion of support.
But, even changing the terms of the question, he is still being misleading. You see, he cites three of the major gun control acts as the only three “laws” regulating guns. I suppose with some creative obfuscation and lawyerese, his statement could be considered technically factual, but he’s most definitely being misleading. The laws of the United States are contained in the US code and the regulations promulgated to support those laws are found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Acts of Congress are incorporated into the USC and CFR and each carry the force of law.
Every few years, the BATFE publishes a reference guide that includes the US Code sections and the Sections of the Code of Federal Regulations that regulate firearms in the US.
The latest copy that I have available is from 2005. Here is the general scope of the “three federal laws” that Helmke is talking about:
The first part of the Gun Control Act of 1968 is found in Title 18, US Code, Chapter 44:
Section 921, Definitions
Section 922, Unlawful Acts
Section 923, Licensing
Section 924, Penalties
Section 925, Exceptions: Relief from disabilities
Section 926, Rules and Regulations
Section 927, Effect on State law
Section 928, Separability
Section 929, Use of restricted ammunition
Section 930, Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities
Section 931, Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons.
These sections take up 22, 8.5″ x 11″ pages, three columns, 10 point font.
We’re not done yet. The Gun Control act of 1968 also includes Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter II, Part 478.
This part of the CFR encompasses 101 sections (I won’t torture you by listing them all) and fills 44 of the aforementioned 8.5″ x 11″ pages.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 includes 22 Sections of Title 26, US Code, Capter 53 and 86 sections of Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter II, Part 479 for a total of 23 pages.
The Arms Export Control Act (Which Helmke didn’t mention, but does impact American gun owners because it also covers importation restrictions), Title 22, US Code, Section 2778 and Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter II, Part 447, takes up 12 pages.
The National Instant Backrgound Check regulations are found in Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter I, Part 25 and take up 6 pages.
And, finally, Title 18, US Code, Chapter 83, Firearms Law Administered by the Postal Service which is only about 1/2 page.
So…Helmke’s “three federal laws” consume approximately 108 pages of the Federal Firearms Regulations Reference guide.
Some “three laws” huh?
And that’s not to mention the fact that those chapters of the US Code and CFR have been modified numerous times through other acts of congress and amendments to other bills that Helmke conveniently doesn’t mention when discussing the “three laws”. The “Assault Weapons Ban” of 1994, before being allowed to expire and being removed in 2004, was actually added to the US Code and CFR chapters covering the 1968 Gun Control Act; but he would have us believe that the Chapter of US Code covering the Gun Control Act is a single law? Hardly.
And we didn’t even get into ATF Publication 5300.5, State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms…the 2006 edition of which is 468 pages of even smaller print than the National Laws, and also on 8.5″ x 11″ pages.
So, in one fell swoop, Helmke uses two tactics to create a false impression. First, he changes the question to exclude state laws…so he was comparing apples to oranges in the first place…then he understates the scope of federal laws by counting only the original acts of congress, rather than the sections of US Code and Federal Regulations that resulted from those acts…and completely ignoring any subsequent acts or amendments that modified those sections of code.
This is typical of the anti-gun propaganda. Tenuously based on facts, but presented in a manner intentionally designed to mislead and misinform. The best lies always have some element of truth to them.
As I mentioned earlier, Helmke never supports his overall premise…that there actually IS a “gun show loophole”. He uses the term repeatedly, but never addresses the two salient facts:
1. The provision allowing for the private transfer of firearms between individuals not engaged in the business of dealing in firearms is an INTENTIONAL provision in the law designed to protect the property rights and privacy of gun owners; therefore, it does not fit the definition of “loophole”. Freedom is not a loophole.
2. The provision allowing for the private transfer of firearms applies everywhere exactly the same. It has nothing to do with gun shows. Every law that applies outside a gun show, applies inside a gunshow and vice versa.
The provision in the law to which he is referring is not a loophole and has nothing to do with gun shows. But, hey, if he repeats the lie often enough and loudly enough, he’ll MAKE it true by gum!
There.Is.No.Gun.Show.Loophole. To insist that there is without disproving the two salient points listed above, is to lie. Period.
Helmke attempts to counter the fact that very few criminals get their guns from gun shows with another piece of misleading trickery. He references an ATF report regarding large volume trafficking investigations. He states that
according to one ATF report, “(F)elons buying or selling firearms were involved in more than 46 percent of the investigations involving gun shows.” [emphasis added]
Hmm…I wonder what the ATF was investigating? Um…criminal activity maybe? And who, praytell, engages in criminal activity? Why….criminals do. OF COURSE a significant percentage of investigations into criminal activity revealed that it was criminals who were engaging in it.
What’s really amazing is that the percentage wasn’t HIGHER. That tells me that criminals really do avoid gun shows…they sure as heck don’t go out of their way to commit their crimes there.
Oh…and you’ll notice that his statement said nothing about “unlicensed sellers”. Think that was inadvertent? Nope. That’s because the report he references didn’t differentiate between investigations of licensed dealers and private individuals.
Remember that this report was specifically regarding HIGH VOLUME trafficking cases. Of those investigations linked to gun shows, what percentage involved private sellers? I don’t know because the report doesn’t say, but hey…I wonder who, whether at gun shows or anywhere else…would be more apt to have large numbers of firearms available to engage in high volume trafficking…licensed dealers, or private individuals???
Finally, Helmke engages in the tried and true anti-gun tactic of using emotion laden catch phrases to try to frame the argument. Unfortunately for him…he strikes too close to the truth for his own good.
Aldridge argues against requiring criminal background checks for gun sales by unlicensed sellers, but what he is really advocating for are secret gun sales. Millions of firearms transactions a year hidden from public view…
I’m sure to this statist, authoritarian wanna-be tyrant, this seems like a devastating argument…but Paul…that’s the POINT.
It’s called “privacy”. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s the concept that our employees in the government have no business keeping tabs on We The People.
What you are preaching here, Paul, is REGISTRATION. And, no matter what kind of weasel words you try to mask it in We Won’t Have It. Period.
I’m going to try to work up a LTE in response but I don’t know if I can keep it short enough to get it published (I know…suprise, suprise, right?…I mean…I’m usually so SUCCINCT in my writing aren’t I…?) so if anyone else wants to give it a shot, please let me know what you submit either by blogging about it and posting a link in the comments; or, if you don’t blog, send it to me in an e-mail and I’ll post it here.