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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Virginia Crime Commission and the "Gun Show Loophole"

When the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee defeated Governor Kaine's signature gun control legislation earlier this year - background checks on private sales at gun shows - it threw a bone to the gun ban lobby by forwarding the issue to Virginia's Crime Commission to study the issue. Last week, the Commission agreed to study the issue -- but also made clear it will not issue any legislative recommendations as a result of its findings.

You could have heard the howls of the gun ban lobby all the way to the offices of VSSA in Orange County. Their reaction assumes the study would reach the same conclusions they already have - that gun shows are a major source of guns used in crimes. An unbiased study might come to conclusions showing no need for tighter restrictions and might actually refute arguments for restrictions commonly sought by the gun ban lobby.

According to a Richmond Times Dispatch editorial this morning, the commission hopes to find out (a) how many guns sold at gun shows are sold by individuals who do not have a federal firearms license (private sales), and (b) how many of the guns from that pool are then used in crimes. The RTD asks, "What if it turns out that only a tiny fraction of them are? The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reports, for instance, that 57 percent of the guns used in crimes are sold by 1 percent of gun dealerships."

A non-biased study might help clear up some common misconceptions. Del. David Albo, the chairman of the commission, said that he doesn't understand "why one person who sells guns has to be federally licensed and another person doesn't. And I imagine no one else in the House of Delegates does, either."

That's easy to answer "Delegate Dave" and you don't need a study for this one - Not all vendors at gun shows sell guns (some sell food and sauces, knives, books, gun safes, tasers, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other paraphernalia). Just as not everyone that is a vendor at a show sells guns, not everyone who sells a firearm at a gun show is engaged in the business. Some people at gun shows bring a gun or two from their personal collection to sell or trade for a different gun. It is just as absurd to call these folks 'gun dealers' as it would be to require them to have a federal dealer's license to do so.

If there is still a question in the mind what really steams the gun ban crowd, Del. Kenneth Melvin of Portsmouth stated their complaint quite well when he whined, "It might as well be the public policy in Virginia that if you're not a convicted felon, we want you armed to the teeth."

The RTD editorial closes with a warning that should be heeded by every gun owner - "Open hostility to the self-defense rights of law-abiding citizens offers a bracing reminder that those who grow complacent about their liberty are printing a license for others to steal it."

Well said.

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