Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Problem with Private Sellers of Guns

The Trace

Lewisbey made so much cash from the gun sales that he had to bury some of it in his backyard. Yet he insisted that his gun business wasn’t a business at all. Rather, he maintained that he was a hobbyist. His lawyers claimed he bought guns in Indiana to add to his collection, from which he sold the occasional firearm — hardly enough to require him to get a license from the ATF and conduct background checks on his buyers.


  1. The Problem with Private Sellers of Guns

    So . . . exactly what is this "problem," again?

  2. Yet, isn't it ironic that the federal government can illegally smuggle, transport and sell weapons, without fear of retribution, to terrorists in any number of countries known to be our enemies.

    orlin sellers

  3. "A centerpiece of President Obama’s new executive actions on gun safety is an effort to more clearly define who’s engaged in the business of gun selling, and therefore must register as a licensed dealer or face criminal prosecution. The calculus is that clearer rules, widely communicated, will raise the risks of being engaged in the business without a license — and nudge more sellers into the background check system — while also increasing the odds that cases will be brought, and won, against scofflaws."

    Of course, we don't seem to know what the details are in regards to that because apparently, this well thought out executive order didn't include that little detail,

    "Reports had indicated that the Obama administration might set a sales volume past which a seller automatically qualified as “engaged in the business,” but the executive action it opted for does not include such a numerical threshold. Instead, the White House says that sales quantity is one of the factors — along with how long guns are held before being sold, and how much a seller markets him- or herself — that will go into requiring that a seller be licensed."


    So it appears that in reality, nothing has really changed because the prosecution will still need to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was engaged in the business of selling firearms.
    Exactly as it had to do in the two cases that the article described.

    1. "Of course, we don't seem to know what the details are in regards to that because apparently, this well thought out executive order didn't include that little detail,"

      That's why I called his Executive Order more empty rhetoric. You do agree that greater clarification about what constitutes a professional gun seller is a good thing, right?

    2. "You do agree that greater clarification about what constitutes a professional gun seller is a good thing, right?"

      The question being how do you define that? And is it something that should be the role of the ATF to determine as opposed to it being defined in the law which would be determined through the legislative process?
      I personally believe that it should be defined through legislation if possible. Or if that isn't possible, then I'm cool with letting a jury decide.
      Of course, a lot of this could be solved by allowing citizens access to NICS so they can perform their own background checks. If the polls saying that the large majority want more background checks is true, then providing access would lower the number of sales not undergoing a background check.

    3. If an individual is responsible for the "character" of the person they are selling a gun to, then the individual should have access to the NCIS, or whatever is used by the government to determine a proper sale.

    4. I agree whole heartedly Anon. At least in individuals having access to NICS. In fact, a couple of years ago, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma I believe named Tom Coburn suggested such a system. And strangely enough, the gun control lobby wasn't interested in this way of increasing the percentage of gun sales undergoing a background check.
      I would argue that the only person responsible for the character of an individual is that individual.
      After all, Mike tends to group gun owners into two catagories. Those who have committed gun crimes, and those who haven't committed them .....yet.

    5. Don't misunderstand, I agree with VERY tight background checks, including a mental health background check. I just think if we put those kind of qualifications (especially on individuals) then at least the government has to have a good system usable by everyone.

  4. So much wrong here… so much… I’ll try and keep my rebuttal under four posts this time.

    First of all I want to point out some of the language differences the gun control people use to manipulate the narrative. When they say “private sellers aren’t required to conduct background checks” the reality is they are not allowed to conduct background checks. When they talk about “unlicensed dealers who should register with the ATF” the reality is they could only apply for an FFL. The ATF, per the Clinton era changes in policy, will deny licenses to people who are not fully engaged in the business of selling guns to cut back on the scourge of “kitchen table dealers”- you know, those hobbyists who used to be required to conduct background checks and are now forbidden. In the classic mold of gun control, they put the squeeze on from both ends.

    Second, (and this is a critical point that requires the slightest elementary knowledge of economics) you have to have an FFL to be able to buy from wholesalers. This means these “unlicensed dealers” are buying at market value and then selling at market value, which makes it hard to say they are engaged in business. Sure, some savvy purchases can net a profit, but the bulk of these sales are probably at a loss where people are more interested in making room for the next thing. One great thing about guns is that they depreciate very slow which makes it very conducive to collecting and trading without hemorrhaging gobs of money. This is for two reasons: one, they are extremely durable, and two, advancements are few and far between. This means a 20 year old Glock is worth marginally less than a brand new Glock (because they function and perform essentially the same), whereas say a 1996 Honda Civic is worth a small fraction of a brand new one. So yes, lots of people buy and sell used guns, but that doesn’t make them “in the business”, nor does this mean the ATF will let them be in the business.

  5. This brings us to the Trace article. They highlight two cases of supposed “unlicensed dealers”. Both of these were cases of buying at market value, but instead of selling them at market value, they were selling them at street value in an effort to find a margin (because surprise- selling something for the same price you paid for it doesn’t make you any money). In other words- they were doing what is called “trafficking in firearms” (a federal felony). Even though the title implies that one of them got away with it, if you can stomach reading the article, we find out that both were convicted of gun trafficking. All the whining this article is doing is because one of them was convicted of gun trafficking and dealing without a license, and the other was just convicted of gun trafficking. Oh, the horrors! Something must be done so that we are able to pile on felonies on top of felonies, because it is so horrible to convict a criminal of just one felony! Additionally, the article doesn’t build a good argument that case number 2 was a regular dealer:

    The prosecution alleged that Bradley sold as many as 25 guns in just one month, and that those transactions netted Bradley as much as $7000.

    So he made $17,000 under the poverty line? Somebody alert Bernie Sanders!

    Again, they weren’t able to convict him of illegal dealing because this looks more like one-time liquidation (he made that money in one month, not every month). But who cares!? They got him on gun trafficking because they were able to prove he had reasonable belief that they would be sold to felons. Asking these two guys to get an FFL is like asking basement meth labs to get FDA validation. They were intentionally engaging in illegal activity. They are not going register their business with the government, or declare their income with the IRS. The first guy was burying cash in the back yard for Pete’s sake. So Obama’s plan for gun traffickers is to prosecute more hobbyists who move guns in at out of their collection (possibly at a net loss) for not having a license that the ATF won’t issue them in the first place. And since as this Trace article points out, the DOJ already loses many “dealing without a license” cases by not being able to prove the defendants were “in the business”, and given that these standards haven’t changed, we can only expect to see more government costs, and more good people’s lives damaged through the financial and general life burden of needing to defend yourself against a federal felony charge. Nice.