Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Gun Show Loophole Has Vanished

The New England Journal Of Medicine has just published another article on gun shows ("criminogenic pumps", according to the abstract) by the ever-industrious Garen Wintemute, in which he manages to make this startling revelation:

Concerns about private-party gun sales and the importance of gun shows as a source of guns used in crimes have led to repeated calls for closing the "gun show loophole" — by which advocates usually mean requiring that private-party sales at gun shows be routed through a licensed retailer who will do a background check and keep a record of the purchase. President Barack Obama endorsed such a measure during his 2008 presidential campaign, as did President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Legislation to close the loophole has been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but no hearings have been scheduled.

In fact, there is no gun-show loophole as such. Federal law is silent on the issue of gun shows and permits private-party gun sales to occur anywhere. As a result, such a limited measure might well have no detectable effect on the rates of firearm-related violent crime. Gun shows account for a small percentage of all gun sales in the United States — between 4 and 9%, according to the best estimates available. Similarly, they account for just 3 to 8% of all private-party gun sales. Legislation to close the gun-show loophole would not affect the great majority of private-party sales, and motivated illicit buyers could simply find private sellers elsewhere.
The abstract is only a half-dozen paragraphs and is worth a read, if only as a masterpiece of using statistics to dress up an editorial. And vague statistics at that!

[I thought criminogenic pumps were a kind of women's shoe.]


Ed Rasimus said...

Criminogenic pumps are those stylish shoes which a woman wears when planning on being captured in a surveillance video at a Wal-Mart stuffing four cell phones and a Mr. Coffee into her spandex hot pants.

Meanwhile the camel noses under the canvas with regard to government regulating how free citizens can dispose of their personal property.

Clearly the intent is to so confuse the citizenry with a maze of complex legislation that inevitably they can at their discretion find criminality in any action by any person whenever and wherever it suits them. Dark days loom ahead.

Joel said...

As I understand it, the plan for "closing the gun show loophole" involves forbidding all private sales, not just the ones at gun shows. Not that the politicians ever seem to get around to mentioning that in front of cameras.

TJP said...

"Federal law is silent on the issue of gun shows and permits private-party gun sales to occur anywhere."

Yeah, uh huh. The Constitution places on the federal government a prohibition of interference--into the matters of arms and personal defense of the people--in such a prominent location that the only way to make it any more obvious is to add a spring-loaded boxing glove.

There's nothing in the gaps except ink spatter, Dr. Wintemute; it's time to admit your despotic designs.

Don M said...

In the article it says "Unscrupulous private sellers may simply avoid asking questions that would lead to such revelations."

Of course our smart doctors don't go so far as to think that criminals buying guns in order to commit a crime might go so far as to lie to a scrupulous private seller. After all, it is all about the gun, and not about the criminal.