Must Read: Imagining Gun Control

Dave Hardy has linked to this most excellent law review by Nicholas J. Johnson called “Imagining Gun Control in America.  Understanding the Remainder Problem” that I think everyone should read.  Here’s a sample, discussion how banning private sales won’t facilitate a solution to the “remainder” problem, the remainder being the guns that don’t get turned in in defiance of a confiscation order (which is to say, most of them):

Requiring private sales at gun shows to be routed through a dealer might lay the foundation for regulating secondary-market sales. But we know that sales by FFLs are only about half of all gun transfers, and sales at gun shows are only a fraction of those. With nearly half of gun transfers involving private trades out of the existing inventory, people who complain about the gun show loophole can really only be satisfied by a flat ban on private transfers―e.g., requiring all transfers go through an FFL, who will route the buyer through the NICS.

Competing impulses complicate projections about defiance of rules that would introduce the government as a filter between all private buyers and sellers. The defiance impulse that confounds registration and confiscation operates here for obvious reasons. Channeling secondary sales through a government filter brings no-paper guns back into the system. Indeed, this type of system would be one way to confront the remainder problem that otherwise impairs attempts at gun registration. If all secondary sales were required to go through FFLs and all FFL transactions were recorded, eventually, in theory, most guns would be registered. However, where registration and confiscation are background possibilities, the impulse to resist secondary sales restrictions will be similar to the impulse to resist registration and confiscation. The no-paper gun will continue to have premium value. People will pay extra for them and have powerful incentives to retain and acquire them in various ways. These incentives will fuel defiance of secondary sales restrictions.

That is absolutely spot on, and why these schemes will not serve their intended effect. Get this, gun control folks, we know your end game. We have no intention of playing along with your little scheme. My experience with the gun community here in Pennsylvania suggests that non-compliance for our ban on private transfers of pistols is exceedingly high; most people don’t even know about the restriction, and are shocked and outraged when informed the law actually makes them felons for selling a pistol to a friend or shooting buddy.  A federal ban, especially in states where local authorities have no incentive or intention to enforce federal gun laws, is even more likely to be defied.  The paper trails for the guns meant to be subject to these regulations won’t be worth the paper they aren’t printed on.

6 thoughts on “Must Read: Imagining Gun Control”

  1. To continue with the line of reasoning in your excerpt: owners of guns in the FFL system would have a powerful incentive to join the “no-paper” system, i.e. increased price. So efforts to move more guns out of the private-sales channel and into the FFL channel would likely end up doing just the opposite.

  2. It doesn’t take a genius to predict a dramatic increase in tragic boating accidents, automobile/home break-ins, muggings, and kabooms being reported.

  3. The fact that they use the term “gun show loophole” speaks volumes as to the real agenda behind their deceptive phrasing.

    When I’m asked about this so-called loophole, I just respond with: All transfers of firearms that take place INSIDE a gun show are subject to the exact same set of federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations, and requirements as those transfers that take place OUTSIDE of gun shows.

    The constant use of the word “gun show” is there to make the uninformed voters think about black market arms bazaars where inbred white supremacists gear up for their race wars.

    What they’ll never tell you is that closing this “loophole” would make it impossible to give your son his first .22, or sell your old rifle to your hunting buddy without telling the .gov about it and paying for the privilege.

  4. That is an extraordinary article and most people I know that have guns have few non papered guns. Especially guns passed down by family member that were obtained before the 1968 act.

    Just reference the variety of articles on how to perserve guns in the ground. Most of us have thought about that so have a good idea what we would do to keep guns available in the face of serious confiscation.

    DC passed it gun registration in 1976 and many did registered but then just dropped out. DC had paper files and these files have disappeared when Heller attempted to register his weapon.

    The extreme low number of registration since Heller has indicated that those who have non registereed weapons plans on keeping it that way.

    Just note the amount of police guns and crime guns that “walk” from police property rooms. That indicates a high incentive to have non papered guns back on the streets or hidden in otherwise law abiding homes.

  5. I second this post … quite well worth the read!

    The Heller case and decision is, and will continue to, generate a lot of good scholarship on the right to arms.

  6. I quit buying “papered” guns years ago. It is/was only a matter of time that the US adopted the socialist gun control laws of the People’s Republiks of New Jersey & California. The underground market is huge and getting larger each day, prices have also spiked, but folks will keep buying. Registration ALWAYS preceeds CONFISCATION!

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