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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brady Happy for Symbolism Over Substance

If one was looking for coverage of yesterday's "forum" on H.R. 2324, the Closing the Gun Show Loophole Act, they would have to look pretty hard because the only coverage I could find was on the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog, this UPI wire report and a couple of TV stations that had a very brief mention of the meeting. The UPI story was more a rehash of the Brady press release issued the day before. One TV station did do a report but as you will see in the video below, the reporter could not even get her facts straight, attributing the so-called loophole to state law. It is actually federal law that allows individuals who are not FFLs to sell one or more firearms from their personal collection without requiring a background check.

The fact the only extended coverage that can be found in the print media is on a newspaper blog shows just how far the gun ban lobby has fallen in recent years.

It was basically an opportunity for Brady to play videos you can see on their web site of their activists using Brady money to purchase firearms at gun shows from unwary private sellers, all in an attempt to show how easy it is for a criminal to buy at gun shows. For his part, Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke was happy to have a little symbolism to get attention to his group's rallying point:

But it was also as much about symbolism as lawmaking, because the gathering was a forum, and not a full-blown hearing. ..."We're just happy to have this," Helmke said during a break. "The fact that they're giving it this much attention is a positive step."

The "forum" was put together by Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA3) and featured a number of the same folks that turn out at the Virginia General Assembly every year to push for the annual gun show bill.

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.) chaired the forum, and panelists included Gerald Massengill, former superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Colin Goddard, a former Virginia Tech student who told of surviving four gunshots during the April 2007 mass shooting. Lori Haas, whose daughter also survived the Virginia Tech shooting, also attended.

Apparently only the anti-gun members of the committee attended. There were no reports of questions to the participants about the other side of the issue. Freddie Kunkle, who covered the forum and wrote the blog post, did offer this for the gun owners side however (likely based on his coverage of the General Assembly's gun show bills):

Gun-rights advocates who oppose requiring background checks at gun shows have argued that the checks are not necessary because only a tiny fraction of guns have been traced from crimes to private sales at gun shows. They also argue that there is no such loophole because non-dealers can still sell or transfer a firearm without conducting a background check on a stranger they met through a want ad or in some other way.

Above all, they fear that requiring such checks at gun shows would clear the way to requiring universal background checks for every firearms transfer, whether between friends or family -- and ultimately, to de facto registration.

I have spoken with Kunkle in the past on Virginia's gun rationing law. He seemed genuinely interested in giving both sides of the issue he is covering.

Update: This report was on a local Richmond TV station. Even these folks can't get it right. There must be a template for reporters to constantly repeat the term "unlicensed dealers."

At least this Tidewater station got it right when they correctly referred to private sellers instead of "dealers."

The video below is from the DC Fox TV station. It is an interview with Colin Goddard and Congressman Scott yesterday morning before the House Judiciary meeting was held. Scott refers to private individuals and "unregistered dealers." He even says you can buy "military assault weapons" at gun shows. His staff has done a good job of making sure he is sticking to the Brady talking points.

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