As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two Tickets To The Gun Show

Mike Bloomberg is in an election that is surprisingly tough (in single digits) despite spending around $75 million dollars, and despite his faults he's always been a strong supporter of gun control. So I'm not surprised he launched this investigation into gun show practices and released some damning hidden-camera video.

Even though private unlicensed sellers are not required to run background checks using the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check system, it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers (such as felons or the mentally ill). In purchases attempted on 30 private sellers, the undercover investigator showed interest in buying a gun by asking about stopping power or by dry-firing the weapon. After agreeing on a price, the undercover would indicate that he probably couldn’t pass a background check. At that point, the seller is required by law to refuse the sale – but only 11 out of 30 sellers did so. Investigators found private dealers who failed these integrity tests at every show, including two sellers who failed at multiple shows. In total, 19 of the 30 private sellers approached failed the integrity test.

The 11 sellers who terminated the sale confirmed that private sellers know the law. As one seller in Columbus, Ohio, explained “I mean even as a private citizen, I’m kind of allowed a certain latitude, but once you say that [you can’t pass the background check], I’m kind of obligated not to….I think that’s what the rules are.”

The investigation also revealed that some private sellers are in fact apparently “engaged in the business” of selling firearms without a federal license, in violation of the law. For example, one seller sold to investigators at three different gun shows and acknowledged selling 348 assault rifles in less than one year.

There are more videos at Gun Show Undercover. The gun show loophole seriously needs to be closed, and this investigation could provide that. The ATF Bureau reports that 30% of all illegal guns are coming in through these gun shows.

Media Matters wonders if this undercover investigation will tickle the fancy of outlets like Andrew Breitbart and Fox News, who have shown such an affinity for this kind of operation in the past.

And Digby writes:

There's lots of anger and frustration out there right now. The zeitgeist is as angry and negative as I've ever seen it. Economic stress almost always leads to a rise in crime. The conservatives' only answer to this problem is to allow business to exploit their customers even more than they already have and create an ever more authoritarian police capacity to "keep people in line." The real answer is to find ways to ease the economic stress and get some of these deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals. You can probably guess which way this is likely to go.

But still, there is a need to shine a light on this out of control gun industry. I'm not a gun control absolutist, but the kind of activity that's exposed in these undercover videos is far more unacceptable than somebody giving tax advice to phony pimps. This is a deadly business that's killing innocent people.

One can only hope that this legitimate undercover investigation will get the kind of attention the ACORN videos did. It's a matter of life and death.


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