Legitimate dealers OK with AG’s gun show investigation

One of my best friends is a gun dealer of many years.

As you can well imagine, he and I have had our differences when it comes to guns. I think we Americans are too in love with firearms and that there are far too many of them out there. We’ve all heard about children ending up dead or maimed after finding a parent’s weapon. Because there are so many of them, they are too easily purchased by outlaws.

Thanks in large part to the Second Amendment to our federal Constitution, legal guns are as American as apple pie. Nevertheless, government has put some needed brakes on the sale and distribution of guns. One way is to ask that gun dealers check with the federal government as to whether the buyer has any restrictions that would prevent him from owning a firearm. The whole process usually takes a few seconds and those selling guns at gun shows (big stuff in the United States and in New York) can dial a phone number and get clearance to sell a gun to an individual.

My friend the gun dealer believes that it is right and proper to do what the government asks of him. Usually, people are cleared but he says that every once in a while, someone has to be told that the feds won’t approve the purchase. The reason may be an arrest warrant or a past crime or a stint in a prison. At that point, my friend turns to the would-be purchaser and tells him that the deal is off. When the client asks why, my friend simply tells him to take that up with the federal government.

My friend is not tolerant of those who break the rules. One day, he was standing with a relative of his at a gun show. His relative, who he dearly loves, is a cop. The officer noticed that a guy who had purchased a gun from someone else at the show had no business owning one. In fact, the officer had himself arrested the man. He was stopped and the gun he had already purchased was confiscated. Someone had broken the rules.

This is where our fighting New York state Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, comes in. Schneiderman says that too many people at gun shows have broken the rules and he sent investigators out to pose as would-be purchasers. The undercover agents actually told the gun dealers that they could not pass the background check required under the law yet the salespeople still sold them the guns. Schneiderman says that they could have done this hundreds of times. Now the AG wants the Legislature to pass laws that would hold the people running the gun shows criminally responsible if firearms are illegally purchased on their watch. My friend the gun dealer says that some of the shows are constantly warning people over the public address system that they have to go through the gun check. Even if they’re just covering their own behinds, it’s still better than allowing rapists, violently mentally ill people, stalkers and many others to get guns.

Schneiderman is showing some real courage here. There is a powerful gun lobby that takes offense at any rules that would make it harder to purchase guns. My friend the gun man thinks that Schneiderman is doing the right thing, believing as he does that all the people who follow the rules are being tainted by those who do not.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see terrible carnage in our cities and towns. To those who maintain that guns don’t kill people but the people who pull the triggers do, I would argue that if there were tighter standards for gun ownership and fewer guns on the street, there would be less violent crime. I am not alone in this. Major police groups and people like Mayor Bloomberg agree. While my friend doesn’t agree with me on the “too many guns” argument, he does agree that rules have to be in place and vigorously enforced. Let’s face it, that’s the least we can do.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 12/13/11

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2 Comments on “Legitimate dealers OK with AG’s gun show investigation”

  1. Nyharvey Says:

    So we enter the cloudy world of the 2nd Amendment. Too bad that our Constitution wasn’t authored more recently but we must default to various speculative interpretations. As an iAmerican naturally I support the Constitution with the concern that the ownership of a fnon-collectible firearm be allowed to anyone that either has a need or just likes the concept with the caveat that the person is capable of ownership. This to me is like the ownership of a motor vehicle. You have to minimally demonstrate that you undderstand how the foreworks. Now to diigress a bit what does concern me is the incredible hypocerisy (sic) of firearm ownership. I do not support the publication of lists of owners of weapons similar to my non support of a list that shows that I won several valuable Leica DSLR and M-series cameras. Now where this is going is simple. many of the individuals that profess being anti “gun” enjoy the ownership of forearms. I refer to what some refer to as the anti-gun lobby. It is easy for public figures to obtain permits for concealed weapons and than become a leader the anti-gun lobby. This is what irks me. Alan does not support the development of natural gas in NY, I do. My support is based upon science and the desperate need of NY for employment and economic growth. Ironic is that Alan would if he wished, have a supreme court judge qualify him to possess a concealed handgun. However Alan is not part of the pro-gun lobby. I like the part of the Constitution just before the 2nd Amendment called the First Amendment and understand that free speech is only free when you don;’t like what you hear or read. To expand my thoughts lets analyze the “environmental lobby.” How many of these folks own multiple vehicles, and even use natural gas? If they don’t want to increase the availability of natural gas for myself then they should be asked to pay more . There is some parallel. I think that we should treat ownership of “guns” like ownership of motor vehicles. I enjoy using a high mpg vehicle, shouldn’t the “encironmentalist” using a low mileage mpg vehicle be asked to pay more? Why the NYS Attorney General is involved in something he has little to do with amazes all. This is the responsibility of our chield law enforcement officers in NYS called the District Attorney and our various Police Departments. They should lobby for the appropriate passage of legislation, if necessary. Shouldn’t Mr. Holder our US Attorney-General be arrested for the distribution of “guns” that have actually be used in crimes and caused the death of quite a few people? This is what the position of our excellent Attorney General should be. Mayor Bloomberg should concentrate on enforcement of the NYS laws pertaining to gun ownership. He has had quite a few years to do this, without success; and now to use the issue to stay in his fading limelight.

  2. Bob Sarbane Says:

    Alan, your comments are why our justice system assumes innocence until one is proven guilty. Rushing to judgment often produces bad judgments.

    The law requires gun dealers to perform the check, but not individuals (non-dealers) selling their privately owned guns. Although I do not presume to have all the facts (something I wish others would not presume, either) it appears those arrested through Schneiderman’s efforts may not have been breaking the law at all. If they were private citizens selling their guns in private sales, no laws were broken.

    Although your “fighting” Schneiderman breathlessly called a press conference, Schumer-style, and the news media salivated over the gotcha moment, I wonder how many of New York’s newspapers will report the dismissals of charges with similar enthusiasm. btw, this is the same Schneiderman who in his Senate days sponsored legislation against “.50 cal” guns without having a clue he was trying to outlaw every shotgun in the state. He might be book smart but he’s dumb as a rock when it comes to what most men know outside the “big city”.


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