define the term, "gun show loophole"

Are those who support “closing the gun show loophole” aware that they are using a euphemism for private sales, presumably as a propaganda tactic? Or do they actually not know what the current laws are?

Do you?

Not only that, are they aware that they are referring to a euphemism for a transfer of firearms even without a sale? No different essentially than what happened when my grandfather gave me a shotgun some years back?

…I had always thought it was a euphemism for something entirely different.

Do you want a debate about what the so-called “gun show loophole” is, or are you taking a survey of what individual posters know about it?

Is it cheating to read, or quote, the wiki article on the subject?

AFAICT, the term refers to the abovementioned exemption from the background check system.

Are you sure that this is always the case? I thought that at least some proposed legislation to “close the gun show loophole” exempted personal sales made at the private residence of the seller. That’s what this site says about the McCain-Lieberman bill, anyway:

That sounds as though your grandfather is legally entitled to give you a shotgun, or sell you one, at his own private residence, without doing a background check on you first.

That is the best definition of the supposed “loophole” that I have ever read. Why a term had to be invented for commerce between two people I have no idea. At its heart, closing the “loophole” really means ending sales between individuals. Lets call a spade a spade.

Read it again - what it actually says is that if the sale is initiated anywhere other than a private residence (including, I presume, a conversation at work, on the street, or online) that sale would no longer be a private sale. Therefore, if the individuals were not dealers or intending to conduct the transaction through one, they would be risking massive federal penalties.

Goodbye private transfers not involving a dealer entirely - everyone would want to cover their ass. And for no real good reason, IMHO.

Personally, I say open the NCIS up online, so anyone can use it, regardless of whether or not they have an FFL. Don’t require individuals to keep all the records that FFL’s do. But require all sales to use the online, free, NCIS database, and problem solved.

Yes, I agree. How does this contradict what I said? A transfer of a firearm that takes place at the transferrer’s private residence is exempted, so AFAICT, yes, your grandfather would be allowed to give or sell you a shotgun at his own residence. (He couldn’t tell you about it in another place beforehand, though.)

Glorious. And he could be confident that his neighbor, a fine helpful citizen like we have all over the SDMB, won’t say that they overheard a mythical conversation prior to the transfer, just because they don’t want guns being transferred at all?

I trust you see the problems here, and how this law would necessitate ending private transfer even though it seems to allow a limited number of them to go through. And again, the costs of doing this would be high and wouldn’t bring much benefit, not to mention there are likely constitutional implications.

But you see the problem the other way, though, right? It doesn’t make sense to have a database and background checks to screen out people who can’t legally own guns, if you allow private sales that don’t require background checks.

If I’m a bad guy with a criminal record or something who can’t pass a background check from a licensed dealer, what’s to stop me from finding a private seller who doesn’t care about my criminal record and getting a gun that way?

The current system just seems horribly inconsistant, and there doesn’t seem to be a point in having laws requiring background checks if it’s that easy to get around them.

The point of allowing individual sales is a few fold.

  1. Most private sales are done between people who know each other.
  2. Enforcability.

What a deeply paranoid statement.

You believe that your neighbors might risk criminal penalties by lying to law enforcement officers in order to prevent you from making a private gun transaction in your home? And you further believe that this invented, unsubstantiated conversation would be a sufficient basis for the law enforcement official to penalize you?

Well, it doesn’t sound likely, but it could happen. By the way, since I seem to be ruffling your feathers here, I should perhaps note that I personally agree that the “loophole-closure” legislation as quoted seems to be too restrictive. I was just clarifying the point about whether the legislation really explicitly would forbid all private gun transfers, since AFAICT, it does not.

Well, we could argue about whether or not it would really effectively entail entirely eliminating all private transfers. I think the real point, however, is that even if it doesn’t, it is still too restrictive.

This seems to my (admittedly not-well-informed) understanding of the situation to be an eminently reasonable proposal. After all, since the old owner and the new owner both have to be legally eligible to own the firearm in question, why not just run an instant background check on both of them whenever a transfer is taking place? Via, as you suggest, open individual access to the database?

That way, the government doesn’t have to worry about whether the old owner is a licensed dealer, what the venue is where the transfer is taking place, whether the transfer a sale or a gift, yadda yadda irrelevant yadda. The whole thing is reduced to “Query: Firearm Owner A applies to transfer possession of firearm of type X to Firearm Owner B.” “Response: Both A and B have been cleared as responsible firearm owners, and the transfer may proceed.” Perfectly simple.

What does it matter whether the transfer is happening at a gun show, a gun club, a private residence, a duck blind in the woods? What I care about in this context is ensuring that when a gun changes hands, both parties to the transaction qualify as persons who are legally entitled to possess that gun.

Now, I suppose there could be potential problems with identity theft, where some non-qualified person is usurping the identifying info of a legally qualified gun owner in order to get away with illegally buying or selling a firearm. So maybe individuals should be able to access all NICS records of firearm transactions that involve their own identities, just like you can look at your credit card statement and check that all the listed transactions charged to your card really were made by you.

Question: Could this system involve civil-liberties issues, in that if one party to an attempted transaction failed the background check, the other party would necessarily know about it? Is that a violation of privacy? If so, how should it be handled?


If they cannot pass a background check, it is illegal for them to own or buy a gun from any source. If they do so, they are breaking the law today, or if all sales must go through a NICS check, they will break the law then too. This does not keep those who illegally purchase weapons from doing so.

No, there should be no retained data by the NCIS.

And why are we checking gun owner A for eligability, that’s not necessary, they’re not buying the gun.

Simple process for selling [privately] a gun… log onto Enter information of purchaser, not seller, and proceed. If everything gets cleared, all is well, transaction may continue.
If all is not well, no reason needs be displayed.

Right, but that’s my point. If you say “Everyone who buys a gun has to go through an NICS check”, then if I’m a bad guy buying a gun, it’ll be harder for me to do so, because I’ll be flagged by the NICS check and the seller probably won’t sell it to me, because the seller won’t want to go to jail for breaking the law. Right now, if I’m a bad guy buying a gun, I can buy it from a private seller, and the seller can always use the excuse, “Hey, it was a private sale. I didn’t know the guy was a bad guy, so I didn’t do anything illegal.”

:confused: Then what’s the point of requiring all firearm transfers, public or private, to do a check at the NICS site? Sellers and buyers could agree just to skip the background check altogether, and if they ever got called on it, they could just say that they passed a NICS check but the information was destroyed.

That really would be introducing a genuine loophole, ISTM. At present, licensed dealers who run background checks on purchasers get a NICS transaction number and have to keep it on the official firearm transfer request form for auditing. AFAICT, if you take away that paper trail, you make the background-check process a purely voluntary exercise. I thought the goal here was precisely the opposite: to make sure that effective background checks really do get applied to every firearm transfer.

Because we’re making transactions so wide-open, and applying background checks to all of them. At present, only licensed dealers have to run background checks, right? And their bona fides are established by the fact that they’re licensed dealers.

If we really want to apply effective background checks to all gun transfers, ISTM that it’s well worthwhile making sure both participants are legally eligible. I don’t want unqualified persons illegally acquiring guns or illegally disposing of guns. (The double check would also provide some protection for the purchaser, AFAICT, by preventing them from unknowingly participating in an illegal sale.)

There is a thriving black market in stolen guns now. There will be once NICS checks become mandatory as well. Let me be clear, I’m not 100% opposed to the idea, as a responsible seller, I’d love to know that the guy I am selling to is permited to purchase it.

How a system like that could be at all useful without tracking the sales, is beyond me. The tracking of the sale is where my problems with it begin.

The point is allowing them access to the system. No more information should be retained from private sales than from standard sales.

There should be no requirement for the either the purchaser/transferee or seller/transferer to retain any data. I wouldn’t have a problem with a record that a check was done, but not one that kept on file any information about the gun being transfered.

They wouldn’t know if they were involved in an illegal sale by background checking the seller. That’s a non-sequiter.

Hmmmm…that’s an interesting idea. A very interesting idea indeed.