I know many people think I should ignore the Brady Board member from Minnesota, but as a leader in their movement, I think it’s worth pointing out how they think. Earlier this week she managed to put together a coherent argument, even though the analogy fails on every level:
The truth is that only some gun sales require background checks and others not. They are all selling the same products. Guns are all potentially dangerous. They should all be treated the same as say cigarettes where store clerks ask for IDs for anyone who looks too young to legally buy them. In addition, cigarettes are now behind counters where someone has to ask for them. Why? Because we have decided that they are bad for your health and not good especially for kids and teens. Alcohol sales are regulated as well. IDs are required for purchases if the buyer looks too young to be legal. Why? Alcohol can be bad for people as well. But all alcohol sales are treated the same. All cigarette sales are treated the same.
All gun sales are treated the same by this analogy. At retail, I have to present ID, fill out federal and state forms, and submit to a background check to determine my eligibility to make the purchase. That’s the same everywhere a gun is purchased at retail. Similarly, I may have to flash ID to buy cigs or liquor if there’s a question about my eligibility (being 21 or older, which is pretty obvious). Now, in most states, it’s illegal for me to transfer liquor or cigarettes to someone who isn’t eligible (under 21 or 18). But there’s nothing to prevent me from transferring or selling either to someone over those ages, and the only thing preventing me from doing so is the law itself.
We do not make it a felony for me to take a bottle of wine to a friends house for him to try out. When I bring a friend over, I can let him have a bottle of beer. I can even pay a friend who helps come over for some home improvement with a case of beer. For smokers, it’s not illegal to bum a cigarette off someone. If I decided to quit drinking, I could still sell my wine collection to someone in most states. Now, you can’t sell your homemade wine, but you also can’t sell your homemade gun. You can’t make moonshine legally without a license, but nor can you make a machine gun without the same. You can’t be in the business of selling alcohol in most states without a license, but you can’t be in the business of selling guns without a license either. So aren’t alcohol, tobacco, and firearms already regulated quite similarly? Actually, firearms are regulated more severely. I don’t have to fill out forms to buy booze or cigarettes, and I don’t get carded much these days.
What Joan proposes is that the only people who can transfer a firearm are federally licensed dealers. If we treated tobacco and cigarettes the same way, you wouldn’t be able to transfer any alcoholic product to another except through a liquor store, where the store would charge you a significant price of a bottle of wine. Only the liquor store could legally determine eligibility. Someone bumming smokes off you would have to go to a licensed cigarette outlet, and they’d have to authorize the transfer of the cigarette, which of course they’d charge for since you’re
wastingÂ using up their valuable time.
I point this out not because I expect to change Joan’s mind on this, but to show how shoddy their thinking is on these things. They act like it’s just common sense, when we treat no other consumer product, even dangerous consumer products, that are restricted from certain persons, the same way Joan proposes we treat firearms. It could be argued that you can’t see a criminal record as apparent as someone age, and they might have a point. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into prohibiting all transfers that don’t go through a retail dealer.