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Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Fallacy of "the Gun Show Loophole"

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA., March 3, 2007.)
According to the FBI's own research, the so-called
“gun show loophole,” which anti-gun
politicians campaign against, doesn't exist.
When an advocate for a cause has science to back him up, he loves science and trumpets its conclusions. When science fails to back up his position, he takes up residence in the Land of Oz, hoping the public will "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

Gun control is a case in point. It is a volatile issue with vigorous energy on both the pro and anti sides. But for more than two months now major media outlets -- bastions of anti-gun propaganda -- have been hoping no one pays attention to a major five-year Federal Bureau of Investigation study of felonious assaults on law officers. Why? Because the conclusions do not support one of the myths that they promote, the myth of "the gun show loophole."

Those who favor new gun laws preach like it's an article of faith that one of the big bad wolves of the pro-gun movement is gun shows. They encourage the public to believe that it is easy to purchase guns illegally at gun shows. They lecture that gun shows are a major source of illegal firearms trafficking and that gun shows attract criminals. They portray gun shows as arms bazaars for criminals. The research proves they are wrong.

Contrary to popular anti-gun wisdom, FBI analysis concludes that gun control laws do not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and that gun shows do not contribute to illegal trade in firearms. The Forced Science Research Center, a non-profit institution based at Minnesota State University in Mankato, reported on the study saying, "Predominately handguns were used in the assaults on officers and all but one were obtained illegally, usually in street transactions or in thefts. In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows."

That should be no surprise. The Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association, which sponsors gun shows several times a year in the Pittsburgh area, enforces a variety of rules at its shows, including the following:
• All federal, state and local laws must be obeyed, including the performance of background checks when required.
• Safety rules established by the PGCA and the show venue must be obeyed.
• All magazines from semi-automatic pistols and bolts from rifles must be removed.
• All firearms must be secured with wire ties, cable tie-downs, or display cases.
• Dealing from vehicles is prohibited.

These rules and similar ones in place at gun shows across the country, plus the integrity of the collectors and dealers who display at the shows, effectively prevent illicit trade in firearms at gun shows. These law-abiding individuals and businesses do not want to aid criminals in acquiring weapons. But the popular media myth marches on.

The truth about gun shows is this: Gun shows serve hunters, target shooters, collectors and military buffs, plus law abiding citizens who have a legitimate interest in lawful personal protection. Gun shows do not serve criminals. According to the FBI's own research, the so-called “gun show loophole,” which anti-gun politicians campaign against, doesn't exist.

One of the researchers in the FBI study, clinical forensic psychologist Ed Davis, noted that not a single one of the criminals in the research was "hindered by any law -- federal, state or local -- that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws."

The fact is that cop-killing criminals ignore gun laws. Where do criminals get their guns? Almost universally, their sources are already illegal. Further restrictions on law-abiding gun owners can't do anything to make the criminals' sources more illegal. Neither can further restrictions on law-abiding citizens do anything to make guns less available to criminals. Gun laws that only law-abiding citizens will obey can only make the public less safe.


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