To the general public, the proposal to end private transfers of firearms appears sensible and harmless.

Professionals in the field know otherwise.

My friend Steve Denney, host of the ProArms Podcast  had the following to say in a blog comment here recently. Steve has decades of experience in public safety service – SWAT cop and police supervisor, among other things, and now manager of the ProArms Gun Shop – and his advice is born in wisdom. It bears repeating.

Those who think “universal” background checks are an acceptable compromise should keep in mind that the government, meaning BATFE, already considers that any change of possession of a firearm constitutes a “transfer.” Unless universal background checks are limited to permanent change of ownership of a firearm, simply loaning a gun to someone, sharing a gun with someone in your family (such as a family heirloom) or agreeing to store someone’s guns (such as a family member who needs to leave guns behind during a military deployment or a temporary business transfer), would all require a background check, and the resultant fees, each time the guns change hands. If the checks were only required on actual change of ownership, it could be workable. But allowing for non-ownership transfers (without a background check) would then be seen as another “loophole” by the anti-gun people. Any such compromise would need to be carefully researched by people knowledgeable of how the “system” works, or the unintended consequences could be unnecessarily burdensome. So far, analysis of laws by knowledgeable people seems problematic.

We keep hearing that 40% of gun acquisitions are made without background checks. While that figure strikes me as somewhat high (and the research behind it awfully weak), understand that it includes gifts from parents and friends. Guns are popular retirement gifts in law enforcement, for example. It also includes a great many inherited guns.  I cherish the guns bequeathed to me by my father and grandfather, and my will provides for significant other, my kids, and some friends to get mine when I’m gone. These would now be subject to government-recorded transfer if the proposed new laws pass.  Indeed, depending how those laws are worded, you’d need to go through a government-approved transfer to LOAN your rifle to your brother to go deer hunting, or your shotgun to a neighbor to take to the range for a round of Obama-approved skeet shooting, as Steve wisely pointed out.

The newspapers are full of the fact that during the recent surge of panic buying, the NICS system for background check was hellaciously backed up, with waits that ranged from hours to days for the promised and legally mandated “instant check.”  What’s going to happen when that system is overburdened with the huge and sudden increase in traffic that will come if transfers between good, law-abiding people are now subjected to needless background checks?

The proposed “closing of the gun show loophole” is far less simple, and far less benign, than it has been presented to be by the anti-gun crusaders.


  1. The problem with universal background checks is that it creates a bottleneck through which our basic human rights must pass, drop by strangled drop. That’s not acceptable in a free society.

    When a woman finds out she has a stalker, she should be able to protect herself that very day — not wait days or weeks or months for a bureaucrat to approve the idea.

  2. This makes me wonder…what about rental guns at gun ranges. Is that a “transfer”? Based on this post I think it would have to be. Can you imagine having to wait for for a NICS check before taking any rental gun at the range?

  3. I just wish the anti-gun crowd would all just come out and say that their goal is to end all private ownership of guns. This constant taxing and nickel & dime legislation will be the same thing in the end.

    Its like the fight against tobacco: If it’s so bad it must be regulated up one side and down the other, then stop being hypocrites by taxing it and just introduce legislation to ban all guns. Let the People decide once and for all or shut the hell up about it and leave the lawful gun owners alone.

  4. I’m with Claire on this one, simply won’t comply with whatever they pass. Don’t like like them, can’t trust them so *&%# them and the horse they rode in on.

  5. @ Jaji

    The anti-gun crowd is using the old method ascribed to in the old tale about Cannibal’s finding it easier to cook their “prospective dinner”, by putting them into a pot of cold water, and then heating the pot slowly to a full boil, rather than fighting to force the unwilling “Dinner”, into a pot of already boiling water.

    The end results are the same, the “Dinner” is cooked, but there is far less resistance from the person being cooked, to do it slowly, a little bit at a time, so they don’t realize what is happening to them, until it is TOO LATE to stop it, or survive what is being done to them!

  6. Jaji,Where have you been? ” They ” have been saying all along the goal is to end private ownership of all weapons. And they’ve not been sneaky about it.
    They know exactly what they’re doing. The citizens may be confused but the leadership sure isn’t.

  7. massad

    leaders and professionals in this country such as yourself, need to take a stand as to any laws out of the state or DC..and make people aware that the bottom line is private gun ownership will be allowed in this country,by the time this ‘conversation about guns’ is over…I think politicians have crossed the Rubicon on this and what is needed is the absolute refusal from yourself and all others that care to remain free and armed…if I am off base please set me straight…I am 70 ex military and a grand parent…I will not comply with ANY law or compromise that denies me my natural right to self defense…how about you…thanks dan

  8. @ Paul Edwards
    Sadly I am totally aware of that “cooking method”. It works on sheep, not on people who are aware enough to simply not be in the pot in the first place…or who saw the cook coming. Just like the proverbial cannibal, the Anti-Gun crowd must use lies and deception because they know their ultimate agenda must be hidden.

    @ Mas: Years ago I talked the Yale Law Library into buying “In the Gravest Extreme”. It remained for about a month before some “open-minded” person stole or destroyed it. Thought that might amuse you!

  9. @Joe,
    A range near my home rents guns and I’ve never seen them request anything other than for a valid ID and a signed waiver of damages. I can’t see any way they could tell if a person was ineligible to possess a gun and since they are also a gun store, the BATF certainly inspects them on a regular basis.

    If I’m not mistaken, federal laws about transfer of firearms and required background checks (as opposed to the usual paperwork) are two totally different laws implemented many years apart. I can see where private purchases and transfers might be seen as a loophole in the more recent law requiring background checks. (By the way, I did not then and do not now support background checks.) If the anti’s got out and shot more often they would realize how useless most of their ideas really are (Piers Morgan excepted).

  10. Interesting. I guess I might need to hire a secretary to handle all the paperwork when I frequently loan out my rifles and shotguns to new hunters and friends.

    And in other news around here, a mentally ill man who took some pot shots at his pregnant girlfriend got a 5 year differed sentence and some meds. I suppose he’ll get to keep his guns even though he should now have a felony record.

  11. Obama to Nation in SOTU: “This Time It’s Different”

    The President delivered the first state of the union address of his second term tonight before a packed house that included members of both houses of Congress, conspicuously sprinkled with gun violence survivors. And many in the crowd were ostentatiously wearing kelly green Sandy Hook remembrance ribbons for the cameras’ benefit. Among the many pet initiatives and a sotto voce declaration of ‘mission accomplished,’ Mr. Obama made sure to include a call for Congress to vote on new gun control laws . . .

    On his wish list of civilian disarmament measures were, as expected, “commone sense reforms” like eliminating “weapons of war” from the streets and universal background checks because “this time it’s different.” Because our “police are tired of being outgunned.” Gabby Giffords and the families of Newtown and Aurora, he shouted over applause, “deserve a vote.”

    Also as expected, the President’s call for the abrogation of the people’s Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation by members of his own party along with a practiced look of concern and dutiful applause from his Vice President behind him. In short, nothing about the speech — firearms-wise — will come as a surprise to the People of the Gun. Plus ça change . . . .

    Transcript excerpt of President Obama’s Remarks: [via CNN]

    Of course, what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.

    It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

    Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

    One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.

    Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.

    Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.

    The families of Newtown deserve a vote.

    The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

    The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.

    Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.

  12. Instead of so-called “universal background” checks how about a truly universal system? one that checks every adult, and identifies those with a firearms disability (but not the actual disability) and places everybody else on the approved list? My proposal-

    Be it enacted by the Legislature, an act to prevent firearms transfers to prohibited persons, to be known as the Red light,
    Green light act of 2013.
    This act shall be an exemption of 21-6105. Unjustifiably exposing a convicted or charged person.

    This statue will go into effect The January after published in the Public record, it shall be phased in a period of
    7 years, as the longest a DL may be valid for is 6-1/2 years.

    In order to prevent the sale, or transfer of any firearm, or ammunition into the hands of a prohibited person, such as
    a convicted person, or adjudicated as mentally incompetent by a court of law.

    This law shall establish 3 categories of classification which shall be designated on their drivers license, or
    non-driver’s identification card, issued by the Department of revenue.

    *Green: Adult, over the age of 21, name& social security number not found on any black list of prohibited persons.

    *RED: Any person regardless of age, who has been convicted of a felony, domestic violence, drug addicts,& those
    adjudicated as mentally incompetent by a court of law.

    *YELLOW: Any person under the age of 21, 18-20 year olds may legally purchase long arms, but not handguns.
    Legal resident aliens, are legal to own arms, but are required to produce proof of legal status
    IE: a green card, Persons who may have previously been disqualified, but have had their right restored,
    again requiring supporting documents.

    All drivers licenses& non driver’s id card shall have one of these colors in a strip along the top, or edge so that a quick
    glance can determine if they are prohibited or not.
    The green color indicates they are an upright citizen, bearing a DL that is compliant with this statute.
    The Yellow color indicates, this person is probably legal, but slow down& procede with caution, with the transfer going
    through a federally licensed dealer being advised.
    The red, indicated that the bearer was convicted of a felony, either as a juvenile, or adult, and as such committed a
    serious breech of the public trust.

    Errors& right of appeal, a person shall have the right to appeal what they believe to be a mis-classification,
    for example, there are any number of John Smith’s in the world, and they may be mixed up with a similar person, If the
    appeal is successful, the state shall issue a replacement at no charge to the citizen.
    If a person has payed their debt to society, after a prescribed time, they may petition for reclassification, If the
    mental illness, or addiction has been treated successfully for a time prescribed by law& that person has demonstrated
    they are once again capable of the public trust, they may be reclassified.
    Upon indictment of a serious crime, a court may order the DL of the accused held by the court, and a provisional paper id
    similar to what is issued upon renewing your DL will be issued until the matter is sorted out. Upon conviction of a
    disqualifying offense, the court SHALL notify the state police of the black-listing of the person, and the department of
    revenue shall issue a red card.

    Civil libertarians will object to the marking of a felon, however generally speaking their voluntary actions were
    sufficient to justify a prison term in excess of one year, the infringement of their right to privacy is less than
    the prohibition of all private transfers.

  13. This is the most incredible Hitleresque propaganda ever foisted upon the American Republic . The very fabric of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is being shreded before our eyes.

  14. If the universal background check gets passed by congress, and signed into law, I would then expect the government to immediately stop approving *any* transfers forever.

  15. @ Jaji

    Well, if it doesn’t work on People, why are all of us in fear about what is about to happen in the Federal legislature now?

  16. The only real challenge to our freedom and safety comes from this guy and his administration of propagandists and commissars.

    Unfortunately we already got our vote, little good voting did us.

    But no one has the right to vote away other people’s rights or the Constitution of The United States.

    At least not yet….

  17. How would such a law be enforced? Would one be responsible for proving they didn’t get their guns without the proper transfer–if so that would be de facto registration of currently owned guns.

    The majority of spree shootings did not come from private transfers. Street criminals don’t buy from gun shows, they buy from other crooks. Heck, the one gun I bought at a show ever, was from an FFL dealer who did the instant check. If there are people acting doing wholesale business without an FFL, isn’t that already against the law?

    The reason to propose such laws is to get around the standard answer of owners when thugs come a knocking with a handful of purchase forms, the standard answer being “I needed cash and sold them to some non-descript dude at a show last year”.

  18. February 13, 2013

    Dear XXXX

    Thank you for contacting my office regarding the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and its impact on federal gun legislation. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me.

    As you know, on December 14, 2012, a mentally unstable gunman committed a senseless atrocity by murdering twenty students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. While many Americans continue to try to rationalize this tragedy it remains clear that the inhumane and depraved actions of this individual gunman appear to be motivated solely by his extremely disturbed mental state.

    On January 16, 2013, President Obama and his administration introduced a twenty-three point plan which lays out both executive and legislative proposals that would attempt to prevent future violence. As the details of the President’s proposals become more clear, I look forward to reviewing them, and working with my colleagues to find sensible solutions that respect the Second Amendment but also help us prevent these type of horrific events from ever happening again.

    While I am an unwavering supporter of the Second Amendment, please know that I will seriously consider all reasonable public safety legislation that comes before the Senate.

    Thank you once again for contacting my office. Please do not hesitate to do so on this or any other issue of concern.


    John McCain

    United States Senator

  19. This is How the DHS Seizes Your Guns
    Posted on February 13, 2013
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently raided one of our readers: a small-time FFL dealer who does everything—everything—by the book. He has, however, consistently criticized the ATF for its unconstitutional regulations and long history of extra-legal activities. This is his story. Update to follow after he consults with his lawyers . . .

    First of all, forget about them coming to the door. They’ll intercept you on your way home from the Doctor’s office (for example), then one vehicle will come up behind you and two will block your way in front and turn on the flashing lights. They then jump out with ‘real’ assault rifles, point them at you and order your hands up, and exit the vehicle. You, being a law abiding citizen, comply. At gunpoint, they order you to assume the position against your car, handcuffs you and frisk you, and you’re directed to get into the back seat. Then the lead agent gets into the driver seat and drives your car to your driveway. You sit there with cuffed hands behind you – bleeding.

    As multiple vehicles close off the street and announce over a loudspeaker for all your neighbors to remain indoors (and are prohibited from leaving), the lead agent calls your house and directs your wife to come out of the house – and sit in the front seat. She does. Then the Homeland Security Special Tactical Unit, and the county sheriff Swat Team arrive, and drive two armored cars over the curb onto the lawn, as the “Jack Booted Thugs” with machine guns, helmets, boots, camo, etc. enter and search your house.

    You see a Homeland Security Helocopter circling overhead. You are asked if you have any explosives (well, several cans of black powder….) and are there any booby traps in the house. They offer to let you read the search warrant, but your hands are cuffed behind your back. The agent in your car reads it very quickly.

    After the Jack Booted Thugs are through, teams arrive to search and ransack the house. After about an hour, you are released and NO CHARGES are filed. You are required to stay beyond the perimeter as they set up tables in your yard and begin to paw through and process your worldly possessions.

    You finally realize that they’re going to keep an eye on you, but you go to a neighbor to make phone calls – and find a good lawyer, who arrives on site, but is kept out by the agents. The agents search one of your cars and release it to you. Hours later, knowing there is nothing you can do on site, you leave and arrange a motel for the night.

    Later, about 9PM (12 hours later), you phone your house and an agent answers, then advises you they’re about to leave. You drive to your house to see four Feds in your front yard, ready to leave. They tell you they don’t know where the house key is (which you gave them), nor where your cat is. They hand you a copy of the search warrant, but fail to provide a copy of the inventory (which they give you two days later).

    You examine your house. Your computers are gone along with every extra & old hard drive, all data cds, floppies, thumb drives, compact flash drives, and other SD drives for your camera. But most shocking, is that your entire gun collection, which you spent a lifetime building, is gone.

    Antique guns, airguns, non-guns. Virtually everything. One antique shotgun lies broken on the floor. Papers are strewn everywhere. Once they looked at it, and didn’t want it, they just tossed it aside. Piles of paper. The house is trashed – every room. Your clothing has been ransacked. Your wife’s clothing and underwear. You don’t even know what is missing. You look around, feel sick, lock up the house and go to the motel.

    You return the next day to try to start to get things back in order, but realize it will take weeks.

    Later, you find out that the affidavit which justified the search warrant is sealed – and you can’t even find out why they searched and seized. A few days later, the sworn affidavit is unsealed, and you find out that the agent lied repeatedly, told half-truths, speculated about possible violations, and related his ‘suspicions’ with no basis in fact – and that the search warrant is nothing more than a gigantic fishing expedition to see what they could find . . .

  20. I’m with Hanza; I foresee events that if passed, the Universal Background Check will have its funding stopped by a future Congress or the ever-popular Emperor’s Edict.. uh, I mean Presidential Edict, or however he chooses to phrase it. As I understand it, it is illegal for BATFE to compile a list of persons approved; who’s minding THAT store? Of course, there are no consequences for violating that law other than defunding. A bafflement for sure.

  21. My opinion is this…

    If we are going to have required background checks in some scenarios where permanent ownership of a gun changes hands (eg. when I purchase one from a store) then it probably makes sense do do it anytime permanent ownership changes hands (I purchase one in a private sale or at a gun show). Not that it will make a big difference in crime – it won’t – but it may shut up the anti-gun people for awhile without hurting us.

    The caveat is as Mas points out, if the language of the law is so vague as to permit loaning a gun to someone as being a situation requiring a background check.

  22. “common sense reforms” “sensible solutions” & “Reasonable”
    WHO can possibly complain about that? we just want our kids to be safe!

    But think about it this way; My neighbor wants his 15YO daughter home by 9 but she wants to stay out until midnight cuz ‘All my friends do!’. they Both think the other is being ‘Unreasonable’! I know, many fathers out there thinking ‘What? she still has 10-15 years before she can even Date!”

    Drake, that’s kinda how I see it too. They won’t outlaw guns or even the private ownership of them (Hey, the rich need to let off steam ya know!) but they will pick and choose who is ‘still’ eligible to own one. Make life hell for someone that works/deals/owns them, confiscate (and lose) or they just disappear like what happened in Katrina.

    RE:’Police Chiefs’ I’m not sure about elsewhere but in MN Chiefs are a political appointee and therefore they are basically just a political Lacky; so WHY is their opinion of ANY worth? It is just a regurgitation of their ‘appointer’. If you look, the great majority of police are Pro 2nd and against the current run of control BS.

    @Pat, nice form letter Huh?! You an really feel his concern for your view/opinion!

    Wouldn’t this law also prohibit you from getting a tactical feel for a firearm at the dealer also; since you are not allowed to hold it ya know.

  23. If the process of checking whether someone is legally permitted to possess a gun can be simple enough, I don’t mind it being required for even temporary ownership checks.

    For instance, even if I were in a private party transfer allowed state, I’d refuse to do private party transfers myself unless someone showed me a current CCW, LEO/MIL ID, or maybe some other credential which showed he was obviously not a felon and not severely mentally ill. Otherwise, the transaction could go via FFL and NICS.

    If CCWs (or an equivalent long arms license) were shall-issue, inexpensive, and non-discriminatory, I’d be willing to require a license to own firearms — a very minimal $5 “is not a felon, is not mentally ill” to own shotguns, rimfire rifles, and bolt action semiautos; a more serious check for SBR/SBS/Pistol (which may also include carry), and another check for magazine-fed semiauto centerfire and automatic rifles.

    In exchange for getting rid of the NFA (or just making it a simple $200 tax with no other restrictions), national CCW reciprocity, and ending sporting use requirements for import, this seems like a fair trade. Some improvement in restricting access to firearms by felons, mentally ill, or other prohibited parties; some improvement in access to and use of firearms by law-abiding citizens.

    You could have a privacy-protecting way to check if a person is legally allowed to receive firearms, using a secret number written on the ID and a phone system (to check if it has been revoked). There would be no recording of firearms transferred, just “is this a valid pistol license today?” or “is this a valid centerfire semi/full auto license, today?”.