The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence released a study proposal today entitled “Utilizing the “Buyer Power” Strategy to Reform the Gun Industry.” The gist of this proposal is that state and local governments can force gun manufacturers to adopt the regulations suggested by Mayors Against Illegal Guns by refusing to buy law enforcement firearms from those that don’t conform to this “code”.
In theory it sounds good. In reality it ignores two salient facts. First, while large purchases are made by law enforcement agencies, these sales are dwarfed by sales to individuals at retail. Second, any manufacturer that decides to play along – or even engages in such talks – would be hit with a boycott so quick that heads would spin. The authors of this proposal obviously have forgotten what happened to the old Smith and Wesson when they signed an agreement with the Clinton Administration. The remnants of the old Smith and Wesson were sold by their British corporate owners to Smith and Wesson Holding Corporation which quickly repudiated that agreement.
The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence maintains that criminals and “mentally unbalanced individuals” have easy access to firearms with which to perpetrate their crimes. They blame this on two factors.
1) The lack of a comprehensive regulatory scheme to prevent prohibited persons from acquiring firearms, and;
2) The refusal of the gun industry to engage in any type of self-policing to prevent illicit sales.
If the National Instant Criminal Background Check System which is run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and mandated under the Brady Law isn’t a comprehensive regulatory scheme, then what is it? Every sale made by a licensed dealer goes through this system unless the purchaser holds a CCW permit which is accepted in lieu of the NICS check. Even then, that state’s CCW permit had to be expressly approved by the Federal government as an acceptable alternative.
The second “factor” ignores the efforts made by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to educate dealers about straw purchasers. The Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program is aimed at preventing straw purchases by prohibited persons.
Understanding the importance of cooperating with law enforcement, the firearms industry through the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — the industry’s trade association — has for nearly a decade partnered with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to assist law enforcement in educating firearms retailers to be better able to identify and deter illegal straw purchases and to raise public awareness that straw purchasing is a serious crime.
The report also accuses “unscrupulous FFLs” of selling firearms “off the books”. Undoubtedly this has happened but it is so rare as to become a headline event when a dealer is arrested for doing this.
The following are the procedures that the Educational Fund wants implemented.
• All firearms sales are videotaped and these videos are maintained for an extended period of time.
• A computerized log of crime gun traces relating to the retailer is maintained in-house. When a customer who has a prior trace at that retailer attempts to purchase a firearm, the sale is electronically flagged. The dealer has the discretion to stop the sale.
• The dealer posts clearly visible signage to alert customers of their legal responsibilities at the point of sale.
• Customers are prohibited from making in-store calls on their cell phones.
• The dealer requires criminal background checks for all employees that sell or handle firearms in the store.
• The dealer conducts daily and quarterly audits to make sure no firearms are missing.
• The dealer prohibits all sales based on “default proceeds,” which are permitted by law when a background check has not returned an approve/deny result within three days.
• The dealer keeps all firearms in customer-accessible areas in locked cases or secured to gun racks.
Every gun shop that I’ve been in over the last 5-10 years or more has kept the handguns in a locked case. This is nothing new. Dealers also do and would do regular inventories and audits regardless of any regulation. It is simply good business practice.
I do have big problems with the “crime gun traces” requirement and the cell phone requirement. Why should an individual who has been the victim of a theft be made even more of a victim just to appease these gun prohibitionists? With regard to the banning of cell phone usage within a store, that is really a “WTF?” measure.
The proponents of the “buyer power” scheme think that a “grassroots” effort will convince municipal officials to try and force the “gun industry” to go along with them. Using the term grassroots along with gun control is an oxymoron. These groups have no grassroots. Most don’t even have members and those that do lie about how many members are on their rolls.
The Educational Fund’s sister organization, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, has set up a web page with “resources” to be used in this grassroots (sic) effort. It is filled with “reports” from the Clinton era as well as from the Brady Campaign and other well-known “violence” researchers. They also have templates for your letters to the editor and “dear elected official” letter.
I say let them waste the Joyce Foundation’s money on this as I don’t think it is going anywhere. If it does crop up in a locality other than Chicago or New York, I’ll report on it.