Straw Buyer Problem

The Philadelphia Daily News actually has a reasonably well balanced article on the subject, and it highlights one of the problems dealers have with straw buyers:

“People asking for Glocks, because they hear about them in rapper songs,” said O’Brien, who has worked in the gun industry for 12 years. “I try to steer them back to models more suited for first-time buyers, but they say: ‘No, I want a Glock.’ And they don’t know anything about Glocks or guns at all.”

But red flags trump profit.

“If I don’t feel right about a sale, I won’t sell it,” O’Brien said. “Because I’m white, bald and tattooed, they think I’m racist when I refuse a sale.”

And that, folks, is why a lot of dealers will go ahead with the sale even if they don’t feel comfortable with it. No one wants to get accused of being a racist. On top of that, refusing to serve people based on race is illegal. Yet the crime statistics from Philadelphia show that the violent crime in Philadelphia is mostly young black males with other young black males as the victims. Even if your criteria are completely objective, statistics are likely going to mean if you’re selling guns in Philadelphia, a lot of the customers you turn away for attempting straw buys are going to be African-American. A dealer ought to be condemned if he’s turning people away based on race, but as long as they are using objective criteria to identify a potential straw purchase, he or she ought not have anything to fear.

On that count, It looks to me like O’Brien is doing a bang up job with Delaware Valley Sports Center, and is objective about how he’s picking out straw purchasers. Dealers should realize as long as they are following objective criteria for identifying straw purchasers, there’s nothing wrong with denying a sale. If every dealer was as careful as he was, the Brady Campaign would have a lot less ammunition to use against us.

19 thoughts on “Straw Buyer Problem”

  1. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Racist or illegal arms dealer?
    Worse, some dealers have to worry about getting robbed. It happened at the store I bought my stuff at last year. Good guys, 1, Bad guys, 0, for the record.
    How does one profile without profiling?

  2. I’m curious why the dealer thinks that Glocks are not suitable firearms for first-time buyers.

    They’re mechanically simple, easy to maintain, easy to operate, reliable, available in multiple calibers (all of which have the same operating mechanisms), safe (so long as one obeys the four rules), etc.

    Sure, I’d love to see more people buying nice 1911s, but what’s wrong with a Glock for a first-time purchaser?

    Sure, a .22 might be more suited for a newbie, but not everyone is interested in or can afford target practice — they might just need a gun for self-protection.

    /bought a Glock as his first gun
    //still alive
    ///being a lefty, revolvers and I don’t get along very well

  3. AZ:

    Because Glocks are very unforgiving of sloppy gun handling practices. I generally wouldn’t recommend them for a total newb either.

  4. Jeff:

    Dealers can and should profile, but they should profile for behavior that indicates a straw buy, not based on race.

    1. They also shouldn’t profile on gender, a position that American Hunters & Shooters advocated when Bob Ricker was spokesman. I’m happy to report that his comments about the need to assume women buying guns turned even a diehard Democrat woman against them. She made sure they would be cut off from her future political work.

  5. It may be reasonably well balanced for the Philadelphia Daily News, but to me it still reeked of anti-gun sentiment. To wit:

    Constantly bringing up how bad the former was

    Presenting anti-gun rhetoric as conventional wisdom

    Spending an inordinate amount of space talking about how anti-gun efforts have been thwarted

    Leaving a key player out of enforcement options – the straw buyer

    Like I said, might be well balaned considering the source .. I’d be writing to the anti-gun advocate reporter and the editor.

    Just my $.02

  6. Jeff asked, “How does one profile without profiling?”

    My answer would be to get creative.

    Has anybody besides me ever noticed that there are some indoor gun ranges that have dress codes which prohibit anybody from wearing a baseball cap with the brim turned backwards or sideways, along with baggy pants and visible underwear above the belt? It’s obvious that a dress code like this is intended to discourage “urban types” from using the range. If I were a FFL, especially one anywhere near a big city with high crime rates and high minority populations, I would deny a gun sale to anybody whose style of dress looked too “urban” to me, and I simply would not care whoever called me a “racist” over it.

  7. The first gun I bought was a Glock 19, but I only bought it after taking a very good, hands on pistol class that made me comfortable with handling it. I like it much better that any of the other guns I have shot. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in purchasing a hand gun for self protection, but I do think they should also take a good class and learn how to handle it.

  8. “Because Glocks are very unforgiving of sloppy gun handling practices.”

    Which means…what, exactly?

    And, what guns ARE forgiving of sloppy gun handling practices?

  9. I prefer teaching beginners on a pistol with a manually operated safety, because beginner shooters have issues putting their fingers on the trigger. Teaching them to flick the safety off when they come on target helps deal with that problem until they learn to keep their finger out of the trigger guard.

  10. Keep in mind I carry a Glock. I have no issues with them. But they are for people who have learned and drilled the basics of safe gun handling. Learn to shoot first, then get a Glock.

  11. Sebastian, you have a right to your opinion. And the rest of us have a right to disagree with your methodology and conclusion.

    A manual safety is a crutch. And a manual safety should never be trusted. If you let a new shooter think that the safety will keep the trigger from working, you are MORE likely to see them put their finger on the trigger at an inappropriate time, not less likely.

    I have taught several new shooters using a Glock. And I never had to use the gimmick of a manual safety to adequately educate them to keep their fingers off the trigger when it shouldn’t be there. I instruct them and demonstrate where their finger goes when they aren’t aiming at a target (along the frame above the trigger guard), hand them a dummy gun and continue talking while watching to see where their finger is while we talk. And if they get near the trigger because they aren’t paying attention to their finger, I correct them.

    Manual safeties don’t enhance safety. At best it is a wash. And they can even be less safe.

  12. Yes, because I’d rather have them learn by sending a round where they didn’t intend because they haven’t conditioned themselves to handle a gun safety. You can tell someone that mechanical safeties are useless all you want, but until they condition themselves to keep their finger out of the trigger guard, I prefer teaching them on a .22 pistol with a manual safety. I do not teach new shooters to rely on the safety, it’s to prevent their inexperience from causing an accident until safety is conditioned into their handling and shooting.

  13. “I’d rather have them learn by sending a round where they didn’t intend because they haven’t conditioned themselves to handle a gun safety.” Um, isn’t it YOUR job to condition them?

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to impose my will on you, or pick a fight on the intarwebz. Variety is the spice of life, etc. My purpose in pursuing this debate is to ensure that anyone reading this gets a different perspective on the issue. They can make up their own minds.

    In any case, your argument is still a light-year away from offering any proof that “Glocks are very unforgiving of sloppy gun handling practices”. Wouldn’t a .22 target pistol (even with a safety) have a much lighter trigger than a Glock with a “NY” trigger? And wouldn’t a lighter trigger be even more “unforgiving of sloppy gun handling practices”?

    I’m just asking…

  14. Well, once you’re into New York Trigger territory, you’re bringing it up to the weight of the pull on a revolver. But most Glocks have a trigger that’s half the weight of a New York Trigger.

    Either way, I’m not suggesting giving a Glock to a beginner is begging for an accident, I just don’t think it’s the ideal choice for a beginner to learn shooting and gun safety. I have no doubt most of the time you’ll be able to successfully train a new user on a Glock without incident.

    And yes, a .22LR pistol usually has a lighter and shorter Trigger than the Glock, but the mechanical safety gives me at least some margin that the Glock doesn’t. Here’s what has to happen for a Glock to go off and cause damage or hurt someone is 5 lb. on the trigger pointed at something that you didn’t intend to shoot.

    With a .22LR pistol, it might be 3 lb. on the trigger my safety has to fail too. That gives me some extra margin. I like that considering newbs have a tendency to put their fingers all over triggers. I will usually have a Newb keep the safety on until they bring the gun onto the target, the flip it off. I find they have an easier time doing that with the gun pointed in a safe direction than keeping their fingers off the trigger.

    Conditioning is not something you can do for someone. It’s something that they only learn through repetition and reinforcement. They have to do the repetition, you have to do the reinforcement. If they put their finger on the trigger, you correct them, until they’ve repeated it enough that they condition themselves to do it right.

  15. The trigger on a Glock has to move quite a distance to fire (more than 1/2″ when measured from the bottom of the trigger?), no matter what the level of resistance is.

    A .22 target pistol, such as a S&W Model 41, only has to move…what? 1/8″? Less? And it is a much lighter trigger than the Glock.

    Result? The Glock is less likely to go off if the trigger is inadvertently touched.

    Safeties, decockers…more fiddly crap to confuse a shooter. They encourage dangerous patterns, routines & rituals, and manipulation of a gun when it isn’t actually going to be fired.

    The only control that matters is the trigger. But I’m just a knuckledragging wheelgun fan.

  16. Wheel guns are great beginner guns because they are easy to use.

    Semi-automatic handguns with a manual safety are great beginner guns because they are more complex? That doesn’t work in my mind.

    Any double action only firearm (or close proximity, SIG DAK, Glock, XD, S&W M&P, H&K LEM [I think it lacks a safety]) with the same trigger pull, without extra controls, is as easy to teach as the traditionally easy to learn double action revolver.

    I just can’t see drilling folks in the use of a manual safety as being easier when you also have to drill basic firearms safety, sight picture including front sight focus, proper grip and proper trigger press.

    They already have to contend with different trigger pulls, different grips, slightly different positions of the magazine catch, slightly different sights, and other different characteristics. Having them learn how the different safeties work sounds much worse to me.

    As to the article, the guy might not be racist, but he’s classist. He uses Rap music as a qualifier for his no sales, that’s pretty glaring to me.

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