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You Ask, We Answer

The New Trajectory is a blog of CeaseFire Oregon, which asks the question:

So here’s my question to you pro-gun folks: When you sell a gun to a private buyer you don’t know, how do you know the buyer doesn’t fall into one of those categories? Do you care at all if you may be unknowingly abetting a shooting crime?

I’ve sold one or two guns through a private sale to friends who are also gun people, and I know can pass a background check. I’ve bought several guns at a private sale from people at my club. All long guns, since handguns have to go through an FFL or a Sheriff in Pennsylvania.

Personally, I would never sell a gun to someone I don’t know, but I’m not going to advocate people who do that end up in prison, or face heavy fines and criminal records. I’ve had more than a few instances of people offering to sell me handguns, only to be surprised when I’ve told them that’s illegal in Pennsylvania. It’s difficult for a lot of anti-gun people to believe, because they have difficulty in viewing guns as tools or property, but a lot of gun owners think there’s not really a problem selling a pistol to a friend, either morally or legally, and to be honest, they are only wrong about the latter.

As I’ve said, there are a lot of solutions one could think of that would alleviate the concerns regarding background checks, but the other side doesn’t want to speak about them. Why? Because the true purpose of what they propose has nothing to do with background checks, and never has. They are more interested in tightening the de facto registration scheme that the 4473 represents than they are in expanding background checks.

UPDATE: Robb has a different point of view on selling guns to strangers. I don’t associate any negative morality with the act, it’s just my personal preference. I know people who won’t sell cars to friends too, but it’s not a legal or moral issue.

43 Responses to “You Ask, We Answer”

  1. Thirdpower says:

    In Illinois, they have the state issued FOID card which you are supposed to see before you conduct any private sale. The Il State Police are, by law, supposed to confiscate said card if you become a ‘prohibited purchaser’. You can guess how often that happens. You can also guess how often criminals bother w/ one.

    So because of that, the Anti’s want to force all private sales to go through FFL dealers.

  2. Countertop says:

    I’ve sold guns privately before. Its perfectly legal and there is nothing wrong with it.

    I sold a Glock some years ago that I just didn’t enjoy shooting. Tried to sell it through a gun store, on consignment, but would lose too much money. Went to a gun show, and sold it to a guy there who was looking at buying a Glock. He saved $50. I sold it for $100 more than a gun shop would give me. I then turned around and went and purchased a Colt 1991A1 which I still have.

    Perhaps rather than opposing freedom and America, Oregon Ceasefire and their communist hero Michael Bloomberg can offer to indemnify everyone for the economic hit they will take as a result of their asinine un-American policies.

  3. mobo says:

    If they would make the instant check available to anybody with a computer and an internet connection, it wouldn’t be a problem. And it should be free to use as well…

    Also, I see no reason why it couldn’t be anonymized (or at least semi-anonymized) to avoid the dangers of registration.

    • mike says:

      If they would make the instant check available to anybody with a computer and an internet connection, it wouldn’t be a problem.

      Um, yes, it would be a problem. Why should the government be involved in a simple transaction with a friend in my living room? Why do I want them knowing that I’m buying or selling a gun? Why do I want them knowing how many guns I have? And more importantly, how would it make the slightest bit of difference in fighting crime (you know, the reason they pretend they want the added bureaucracy). And there is no such thing as “free” – the money to pay for it will come from somewhere.

      The only thing it would do is appease and empower the antis. And after that’s crossed off their list, do you think they’ll go away? No – they’ll just move to the next item on the list. Compromise is just another word for surrender with these people. Don’t forget who you’re dealing with here – they’re not just trying to keep guns away from criminals and institute “common sense” laws. Their ultimate goal is total civilian disarmament. Why would you ever consider helping them move along that path???

      • Laughingdog says:

        There’s no need for the check to even be specific to firearms. There are a number of times where people would like a simple way to do a background check on someone.

  4. Robb Allen says:

    Sadly, they have a point. Walmart has the same problem. They sell knives to people without considering if they are going to use them to stab someone to death. The local convenience store will sell a 12 pack of Bud without running a history check on the person to see if they’re an alcoholic who might go abuse their spouse. And don’t get me started about the car dealerships who don’t run police reports on people to ensure they’re not the kind of driver who might run over children.

    Even scarier? You can buy a pool, bucket, or tub without a background check to see if you’re fit enough to be a parent and can put your child at 100x the risk of death than if you had a gun at home!

    You see, you can cure the fringe edge cases that happen .000001% of the time by implementing an intrusive, Big Brother style government! DUH!

    • Alpheus says:

      You laugh about these things, but while I was living in New York State, they passed a law that required you to keep a special alarm on your swimming pool–their definition included even certain lawn pools–that could easily produce a false alarm if a dog jumped in the pool, or if a good gust of wind blew over. The alarm itself could cost more than some of these pools!

      For that matter, a public pool was closed for most of the summer, and almost permanently, because some teenager visiting from New York City climbed over the fence after hours and drowned in it. They didn’t have a lifeguard on duty! How irresponsible.

      Whatever happened to teaching children that water can be dangerous, and to treat it as such?

      Nanny state, indeed.

  5. Jens says:

    Germany uses something like the FOID card, albeit with some restrictions (background check, active in a registered gun club, mandatory class on theory and safety, maximum of 2 gun purchases in 6 months), which makes such private transactions quite easy, even across the country, provided the company transporting the firearm(s) is licensed to do so.

    • Kristopher says:

      Germany had all sorts of other gun control innovations as well, such as restricting firearms ownership to members of the Nazi party, and forbidding jews from owning them.

      Maybe Germany has a poor track record on individual liberty?

  6. David says:

    I just advertise and tell the buyer that all sales must go though and FFL. This keeps about the prohibited people. I also require to see a LTCF and I do a UJS search.

  7. Jeffrey H says:

    I have never sold a gun, but if I were to, it is legal here in Texas but for me to be comfortable with it I would have to see a copy of the Texas Concealed Handgun License. That would tell me that they pass a NICS check. I have seen private tables at gun shows down here and they generally require seeing a CHL as well (even though legally that isn’t required it is just the easiest way to know you are dealing with a lawful possessor).

  8. Tam says:

    How about knives? Hammers? Baseball bats?

    Hey, what about boxcutters?

    • Robb Allen says:

      That’s my issue, Tam. I hate to see gunnies fall for this trick as if background checks fix anything. A person who is too dangerous to own a gun because they *will* do something with it can use any sort of tool like bats, knives, gasoline, etc just as easily, yet we don’t get all bent out of shape that Jamal can run down to the local Hess station and pick up several gallons of liquid death, nor do we think twice about selling a used set of kitchen cutlery to anyone at a yard sale.

      The problem isn’t worrying about who you’re selling to, it’s the fact that the people who are known to be dangerous are free to walk amongst us while old guys who sell tulips with a form not filled out correctly are spending 20 years in Federal PMITA Prison.

  9. Bob S. says:

    When you sell a gun to a private buyer you don’t know, how do you know the buyer doesn’t fall into one of those categories?

    I don’t have to – because the law prevents the prohibited person from even considering buying a gun, right?

    I think putting the emphasis on the seller performing the check is playing into the antis hand.

    The responsibility for what a person does with a firearm lies only and solely with that person. Any attempt to make me responsible for the actions that happen after the sale is simply trying to spread the guilt.

    The other aspect is by playing along with the “prohibited person” we accept the premise that some people are too dangerous to be allowed to own firearms but we are fine with them walking the streets.

  10. N says:

    I think we can all agree that in a perfect world, background checks would even be discussed and guns would be available from vending machines, right next to morphine, bibles, and Fleshlights.

    But in this world, I think Sebastian is exactly right. It is easy to imagine a system for universal background checks that would simultaneously make it harder than at present for “prohibited persons” to purchase, while also making it easier for the law abiding. Anti gunned just want to make it more difficult for everybody, with the added benefit of criminal liability for the unwary.

    • mobo says:

      Yep. What he said.

    • mike says:

      It is easy to imagine a system for universal background checks that would simultaneously make it harder than at present for “prohibited persons” to purchase, while also making it easier for the law abiding.

      Imagine that through the power of Nanny State Magic, a system like you describe is created and works perfectly. Criminals will have their girlfriends, friends, and relatives buy their guns (as they do now) and completely circumvent the system, or just keep buying from each other on the black market and breaking into gun shops. Those things would absolutely happen because they’re happening right now.

      So put yourself in the mind of the rabidly anti-gun folks who want this sort of so-called “common sense” solution. You got your background checks (or its equivalent) for every gun sale and it didn’t work. So what’s the next step? What’s the next “common sense” solution you’re going to push for? Think about that for a while, because that’s exactly where we’d be if this ever came to fruition. We’d just be fighting the next step, until there were no more steps left.

      I want my kids to have more freedom than I have. I don’t want to tell them stories and have to stop and explain every now and then about why you can’t do this or that anymore because people thought they had my kids best interests at heart before they were even born. “What, your school didn’t have metal detectors?” “You didn’t have to be X-Rayed before getting on a plane?” “You could just walk into a gun show and buy a gun?”

      C’mon, people. Let’s not ruin this country for future generations because of some misguided ideas about appeasing the very people who want to see all of us disarmed.

  11. I’ve seen a lot of people selling guns on a forum I frequent say that they will only sell to someone who shows they have a valid CCW permit. That seems like it should cover them pretty well, and not cost them TOO many sales.

    • ecurb says:

      Also a good way to encourage people to get their CPLs. I like it, although I doubt I’ll be selling any of my precious treasures anytime soon…

  12. Panamared says:

    As someone that remembers direct gun sales through the US mail, I fail to see how the 1968 gun laws have made anything better. Criminals still get guns whenever they want them. The only thing that has changed is there is now a paper trail that leads from the manufacturer to the first purchaser of a firearm. I will always ask how this complies with “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”?

  13. Wolfman says:

    Left a comment over there answering his question, and still yet to appear. It was nicely thought out, spelled properly, and quite polite. There’s a call-out naming us all cowards, of a sort, for not posting, but how many comments has he allowed through? He’s counting click-throughs, so he’s obviously monitoring. I’ll give him a few more before I start yelling reasoned discourse…

    • Wolfman says:

      Update- comment allowed, with a pile of others. Basically, similar to what is being said here- if he’s trying to make us feel all guilty and ashamed, he’s out of luck.

  14. Weer'd Beard says:

    Bottom line: Who fucking cares? Robb and Tam point out that there are lots of places for the slippery slope to lead.

    But Just like all the Gang bangers in Philly with handguns despite the “Closed Loophole”, or all the bangers with guns in Massachusetts despite the total ban on private sale.

    The laws do NOTHING, so why are we even looking at them anymore?

  15. I would ask for a CHP. It’s required for pistols here in NC, unless they have a pistol purchase permit. I’d do the same for rifles. I do it because I want to do it that way, not because I have to.

    Plus, I can use it as a way to push people to get their concealed handgun permit. CHPs are the gateway drug to 2A activism. Once they hear about all the stupid laws they have to follow they get pissed off and start getting involved at much higher rates.

  16. J.S.Bridges says:

    I finished high school, and began college, in 1961. At that point, guns could still be bought mail-order in the U.S. – although there were already laws prohibiting or regulating that in some States, and some restrictions imposed by FedGov (no sales to anyone under 18, no handgun sales to anyone under 21, no shipment to P.O. Box-only addresses, IIRC). Convicted felons were already prohibited from merely being in possession of a gun, much less ownership or mail-order purchase.

    More-or-less directly due to a series of prominent incidents (JFK killed with an apparently mail-ordered rifle, several other gun-related crimes), GCA 1968 was passed, which started with prohibiting mail-order sales except via FFLs, and went on from there. It covered a whole lot of things dealing with sales, purchases, shipment and import/export of ALL kinds of guns, and it basically established the Federal licensing system for dealers and the requirements for uniform record-keeping by manufacturers and all dealers we have today.

    Subsequently, numerous amendments, additions and expansions have brought us to where: 1) Anyone “engaging in the business of selling” guns of any kind must be licensed (FFL) – and BATFE has sole discretion to decide how that is defined; 2) Federal regulations on buying and/or selling guns of any kind run to thousands of pages, several dozen phone-book-sized volumes – and are supplemented by State/County/City regulations of several times that size; 3) technically (and this is also the BATFE “official” viewpoint), ALL legal transfers of firearms of any kind in the U.S., no matter where, and no matter to whom or from whom, are Federally regulated – the BatBoys simply haven’t quite yet managed to get the added regs in place to come after those “casual transfers”, the sales between friends/acquaintances/relatives; they’re working on it, though – that’s what all the “gun show loophole” bullcrap is really about.

    Guns are, by far, the most highly-regulated consumer product in the U.S. – the only other products that come even close are automobiles/trucks and certain drugs. Roughly 99% or more of this veritable tsunami of regulation has been written into law, at all levels, since 1968 – much of it redundant or at least heavily overlapping, some of it contradictory, lots of it poorly written and/or obscure in intent, much less actual meaning – and well over half (perhaps as much as three-quarters or more) either unenforceable or simply unenforced.

    In that 43-year period, I have yet to see a single, solitary instance in which any of that flood of rules has actually been successfully used to do anything to attack genuine criminal employment of a gun of any kind. In point of fact, the entire history of firearms regulation in this country, since not long after signing of the Constitution itself, has been one of attacking and hedging in and squeezing down upon the ordinary, everyday citizens’ ability to acquire, possess and (when necessary, in self-defense) utilize legally owned guns. The only halfway-common usage of all those FedGov regs, for instance, is to give “the authorities” an extra bargaining chip in the plea-bargaining process.

    All those rules and regulations and prohibitions have done nothing to affect the criminals. We are no safer – not one whit less likely to be robbed, raped or murdered – due to all that, since, of course, the criminals don’t pay any attention to the rules.

    Aiding and/or abetting anyone in writing more rules regarding transfers of legally-owned guns is thereby not only a waste of time and effort, it’s simply handing government people another way to put more pressure on ordinary citizens, which will have no useful effect on criminal activity. There is no “gun show loophole” – only, on occasion, buying and selling of a legal product between individuals.

  17. Markshere2 says:

    Put me firmly in the camp of selling to individuals with the barest minimum of compliance with state and federal regulations.

    And repealing as many of those restrictions as possible is a very valid goal.

    Guns are NOT the problem.
    Criminals are the problem.
    A nanny state that insists on creating a disarmed victim class is the problem.

    See Great Britain and Australia for examples of TEH FAIL! that gun control brings.

  18. Min says:

    I sold a gun to an Oregon resident in an FTF transaction. Later that pistol was involved in a shooting…turned out the buyer was a Sheriff and that little Glock 27 was put in service as his back-up weapon. So yeah, one for the good guys.

    But asking how we know a buyer won’t go nutball and begin a murder spree, well, that’s silly! Do I worry that the guy I sell a car to is gonna hop the curb and run over Mother Teresa and a bunch of kindergarteners? Should I? Once you do the basic check of verifying residence and the ‘does this guy look sketchy’ observation you really can’t do much else unless you want to involve your FFL.

    • mike says:

      FAIL. I would have replied on your blog, but you moderate your comments and don’t allow anonymous comments. Why is that so common with people who detest the 2nd Amendment?

      Here’s something we’ll agree to and you should agree to but don’t seem particularly interested in: Keeping criminals in prison. But instead of keeping dangerous people away from guns, you want to keep guns away from everyone. Well that’s fine and dandy until I’m in a situation where I find myself needing the perfect tool for self-defense and it’s not available because it scares a few people who thought they were well-intentioned (or not?).

      You want to keep guns and criminals from mixing? Steel bars around the criminals. But go ahead, keep trying to hunt for any solution but that. Just don’t pretend your goal is to reduce crime while doing so.

  19. @ Mike: I used to allow Anonymous comments, but they became too foul and threatening. See my post on this: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/10/anonymous-comments-will-no-longer-be.html

    You can have stronger sentencing AND stricter gun regulation. The two are not incompatible.

    • Thirdpower says:

      You are a liar. I left a comment which was not ‘foul or threatening’ under my handle and it was not published.

      What it did was call you on your false dichotomy and character attacks.

    • Alpheus says:

      You know, if you really wanted to show how foul and threatening those comments were, the best way to do so would be to publish ALL OF THEM. Let the massive flow, and the high ratios of nastiness, speak for themselves.

      Until you show us these nasty comments, I’m going to believe that you moderate comments because they do too good of a job countering your position.

  20. Wouldn’t it be great if you could prove that the comments were threatening? Of course, if they were actually threatening, you could report them to the police. That would solve two problems you think you have. First, the commenters would end up in jail where they couldn’t leave threatening comments. And secondly, you could have one more person unable to buy a gun. Think of it as win-win.

    Except that’s not what’s happening. You moderate comments like every other gun grabber because you don’t want to be overrun with pro-gun rights comments. You don’t want to face facts that you are outnumbered 100 or 1000 to one. Not that popularity determines what’s right, but it is strongly indicative of your political power.

    All you have to do is open up the comments and we will all see that you aren’t overrun with threatening comments. But that would destroy your claim to victimhood. “Oh, woe is me, I’m pilloried by the nasty gun guys on my own blog. I’m such a victim.” If you left your comments open, everyone would see that you were completely unable to keep up with the volume of comments, and completely unable to refute the arguments.

    We’re used to it. None of you anti-rights people have a chance against truth or logic. You have to build yourselves a walled garden where you can pretend to have the moral high ground.

    For those who don’t want to go to your blog to read my comment there,

    “Sorry, I’m not letting [you] off the moral hook that easy.”

    That presumes that we give a crap about what you think. If you are under the misapprehension that any of us care how you feel, I suggest that you get some counseling. A good counselor will help you get over the belief that your opinions should dictate the behavior of others.

    • mike says:

      +1. If the comments were really that bad, you’d think he would want to highlight them to show how horrible gunnies really are. Am I to believe that he’s trying to protect our public image? C’mon, now. Just like every other anti-gun blog, he doesn’t want to post comments that show the holes in his arguments.

      You know why I got into guns? Some politicians thought they’d protect America by banning guns that look scary, so I went out and bought a bunch. These anti-gun people are one of the strongest forces in the pro-gun movement. If they’re not selling guns, they’re fundraising for gun rights organizations or rounding up votes for pro-gun politicians. And not doing a single thing to actually address crime, because they’d rather ban guns than criminals.

  21. Steven says:

    If anyone is really worried about this, have them their voter registration, probably the next best way to a CCW to tell if someone is a prohibited person.

    • Bitter says:

      It would be a very depressing process of finding out just how many lawful gun owners are not actually registered to vote though. It’s really depressing, trust me.

      • Steven says:

        I can see how that would be a drawback, but then aren’t we promoting 2 rights at the same time ;-)

  22. mikee says:

    I bought a delightful Ruger GP-100 in 1994 from an individual at a gun show in Maryland. He tried to sell it at the table of the largest gun shop in town, and I listened to him refuse their offer. Then I offered him $50 more. He wanted to buy high capacity (standard capacity) magazines for his semiautos before prices went sky high as the ineffectual ban started up, so we were both happy.

    I insisted on showing him my Driver’s License to prove I was in-state and the sale was legal, and insisted on him showing me his. No info was recorded by either of us, and we were both happy that the sale was legal. We might have both been felons, the gun might have been stolen, and I might have been a straw buyer, but you know what? If we were bad guys, would we not have done the transaction or followed any laws about gun transfers?

  23. DirtCrashr says:

    In CA where all handgun sales and transfers must go through an FFL, any FFL can open a window on the CA-DOJ site and process an instant background check on their laptop – but despite being instant you still have the arbitrary and ineffective 10-days waiting period.

  24. Countertop says:

    I’ve been itching for a Star PD for years. Thought I found one once, but then it fell through somehow.

  25. Sigivald says:

    One cannot “unknowingly” abet; abetting is helping someone commit a crime, knowing that they are doing so and that it’s a crime.

    Their question is, as Uncle noted on his blog, loaded and misleading – but that’s hardly surprising. I mean, it is a CeaseFire organization.

  26. Kristopher says:

    If someone can’t be trusted with a firearm, then what in the hell is he doing out of prison?

    Fuck your background checks and the horse they rode in on.

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