Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Myth Of The "Gun Show Loophole"

The Seattle P.I. had an article about Washington Ceasefire planting bulbs at Greenlake to commemorate the 600 victims of gun violence in Washington State this year. It seems odd to me that a group can just go plant bulbs at a city park and I have a question into the Seattle Parks department asking about that but that is a post for another day. What Washington Cease Fire does not say and what the "reporter", Neil Modie, does not seem interested in knowing is the fact that about 400 of those 600 deaths were suicides.

Now Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, whose department issued handgun was stolen out of his car earlier this year was in attendance.
In 2005, two violent gun crimes were reported for every 1,000 people nationwide, compared with 1.4 in 2004, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Kerlikowske said it was the "No. 1 issue" at a national meeting of local law enforcement leaders he attended in Washington, D.C., last month.

The reasons? Kerlikowske said criminologists say that for one thing, "we are awash in firearms." Unlike a number of other states, efforts to close Washington's gun-show loophole have been blocked in the Legislature.

To understand the "gun show loophole", you first must know what it is. The gun show loophole specifically means when a non gun dealer, a private citizen, sells a gun to another private citizen at a gun show, just as they would if they had taken out a classified ad in a newspaper, a background check is not required. From Washington Ceasefire's own press release:
But at such shows, unlicensed, private sellers don't have to do the checks.
Unlike all licensed gun dealers who are required to perform the background check no matter if the sale is at a retail store or at a gun show. From Washington Ceasefire's own press release:
At Wade's Eastside Guns, anytime they sell a firearm, they have to do a background check. It's what every federally licensed gun dealer is required to do. And those rules follow the dealers even when they peddle their pistols at gun shows, like one held recently in Puyallup.

We operate exactly as if we are in the store, we have to do the background checks, he said.
But according to Chief Kerlikowske, guns from gun shows are involved in crimes:
We've traced guns back that had been involved in crimes that were obtained at gun shows, said Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.
Notice how it is not mentioned the guns traced back were sold without a background check. Maybe the Seattle Police Department bought the gun stolen out of the Chief's car at a gun show and that gun was later used in a crime. Wouldn't that scenario fit the Chief's description?

Let's now look at the numbers to see how bad this "gun show loophole" is because Seattle P.I. "reporter" Neil Modie does not seem to be interested in doing so. According to "All you need to know about the Gun Show Loophole in 2 1/2 minutes", criminals get their guns:
39.6% of the time from family or friends
39.2% of the time from the street or other illegal methods (such as stealing from the Chief of Police's car)
8.3% from retail shops
1.0% from pawn shops
0.7% from gun shows.

But you do not need to take the word of some right wing pro gun website, Washington Ceasefire says the same thing in its Police lobby to close gun show loophole press release
Alan Gottlieb, head of a large gun lobby based in Bellevue, says requiring background checks at gun shows will only hurt law-abiding owners.

With less than 1 percent of the firearms bought by criminals at gun shows, it's really kind of stupid, it's a waste of resources, Gottlieb said.
Of course the bold headline they use is
Police say a loophole in Washington law allows people to buy guns and gun shows without having to go through a background check.
Seems misleading to me, in addition to being grammatically incorrect.

So the "gun show loophole" should probably be called the "friends and family loophole" or maybe the "classified ad loophole" or how about the "private citizen selling private property without the governments permission loophole"

If Washington Ceasefire was really about preventing gun violence, wouldn't they be putting on gun safety classes and working to make sure all Washington State school children knew proper gun safety. Wouldn't they be in favor of supplying trigger locks and lock boxes to those who asked? Wouldn't that reduce gun violence more than planting bulbs at Greenlake?

But here are my questions to Washington Ceasefire and all groups that want to outlaw guns. How do gun laws stop criminals, who by definition are those that do not follow laws, from committing gun crimes? Laws do not stop crimes, law just state what the punishment is for those convicted of a crime. How are gun laws going to get guns out of the hands of criminals? Does anyone, including Washington Ceasefire think a criminal is going to think twice about committing a bank robbery or a murder because they would be violating a gun law in the process?

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