Thursday, December 1, 2011

Question for Pro-Gun Folks: Background Checks for Private Sales

Here's a question for you pro-gun folks....

You know I'm a strong advocate for requiring an instant background check for all sales, including private sales.  Currently, in most states (including Oregon, where I am), for a gun owner to sell a used gun, the sale can proceed without any oversight at all, unlike sales from licensed firearms dealers.  There's no requirement for a background check, ID, paperwork, or any questions at all.  It's just cash-and-carry.  That means that anyone can buy the gun, including felons, dangerously mentally ill, domestic abusers, sexual predators, people with warrants out for their arrest, people convicted of a major assault, or any other class of people who would be excluded for a sale from a licensed firearms dealer, and they won't be caught, and the seller would probably never know the difference.

So here's my question to you pro-gun folks:  When you sell a gun to a private buyer you don't know, how do you know the buyer doesn't fall into one of those categories?  Do you care at all if you may be unknowingly abetting a shooting crime?


  1. I don't sell guns. Period. More is always better.


    Actually, seriously, I don't sell firearms to persons I do not know and have confidence that they are neither prohibited persons nor a potential threat to me or others. Generally, unless you're a CC holder or I know you personally, I'm unlikely to sell to you. I don't want my firearms used by a bad actor any more than you do.

    The same is true for nearly any gunnie I know.

    That being said, WERE a gun I sold used in a crime, unless I was a knowing abettor of same, I have no legal or moral responsibility. Persons are responsible for their own acts, not things, nor the persons who provided the things unless done with intent. I'm no more responsible for what one does with a firearm I sell than the car dealer is responsible for selling a car that a drunk killed a family with (unless, of course, he knowingly gave the keys to an apparantly drunk person, or I similarly sold a gun to a person who expressed an intent to do harm or with knowledge of his intent).

    However, I have no illusion that any regulation mechanism, no matter how carefully crafted, will make any dent whatsoever in sales of firearms to and within the community of those who intend to do harm. Neither the gangbanger nor his source for guns will pay any attention whatsoever to another paper restriction.

    Thus you end up making paper felons of persons who are no real threat, while having no appreciable impact on those who are a real threat. I don't call that an effective regulation. And I strongly suspect the motives of those who propose such regulations is to make gun ownership as difficult and legally hazardous as possible with the full intent of discouraging the exercise of the right.

    Personally, BTW, I tend to buy firearms (when possible) from private individuals, not dealers. I do so for the express purpose of NOT making a paper trail. You don't really think the .gov doesn't keep a record of those things, do you?

    A little paranoia is a very healthy thing.

  2. GMC70 said exactly what I would have said. I echo it not just to increase the volume of the answer, but also to show you that we who support gun rights aren't the lunatics or extremists that you seem to think that we are. If you'd take a step back from your predjudices, you would see that.

  3. So far I've gotten about 50 hits that I know of to this posting, but only two replies. So either you gun guys never sell to anyone you don't know, as GMC70 claims, or you are afraid to fess up. Which is it??

  4. There's a lot of people who don't sell guns. I've done a couple of private sales--mostly to people via Ohioans for Concealed Carry. In the negotiations leading up to meeting, I say that I will want to see ID-but I don't write anything down.

    Part of the purpose of the second amendment is to allow the majority to revolt against a tyrannical government that interferes with proper elections, and to act as a deterrent so revolt is not necessary. Registration whether overt or via requiring sales to be recorded reduces the deterrent effect. Having at least some guns that are not tracked by the government is more important than the occasional gun unintentionally sold to a prohibited person.

    A compromise that I would be willing to accept would be a voluntary background check card that would substitute for per-firearm background checks. The card could also be used for other purposes, as a substitute for a pre-employment screening for example. In exchange, I would want to remove the federal restrictions on interstate sales of guns, and leave it up to the individual states.

  5. BO,
    I do not sell many weapons, the ones I have sold have been to people I have known for years or coworkers of mine. That said if I did sell a gun or a knife and it were used to commit some sort of crazy murderous crime would I feel bad? Absolutely, I hate it when innocent people get hurt. I would not feel responsible though. If I didn't sell the gun or knife or baseball bat or golf club or whatever, the people committing these types of acts are going to find a way to accomplish their mission and believe me they will! Get a CCW permit, a gun and some training and protect you and yours. Don't count on law enforcement to do it for you.

  6. Baldr,

    How do you know if you sell a car you are not selling it to a person prohibited from driving?

    To answer your question -- I don't have to worry about it.

    There is a law against felons, mentally ill, etc from purchasing firearms.

    Surely that law will stop them right?

    Let's take it to another level -- how do you know the person YOU buy a car from isn't a person prohibited from owning firearms but is going to use that money to illegally buy a firearm?

    Would you be morally responsible for his actions?

  7. Well, if I don't know the person, I require that they have a concealed carry license. The license tells me that they have passed the background checks necessary to own a firearm. Otherwise, I sell them to a licensed firearms dealer.

  8. I traded a gun once, a Chinese SKS that had all the trimmings (scope, folding stock, bayonet, 30 round magazines, hard case, etc). It wasn't anything special, and I got a better gun for it...but I miss it enough that I will never sell a gun.

    If I was going to though, I'd ask. In my experience people are more honest than the government is competent. Also, every time I buy a gun I create a bill of sale for buyer and seller listing all of the info for the gun and people involved.

    I personally can't pass a background check due to identity theft, cops prefer to screw me while letting the crook roam around free. However, the guy who stole my identity can easily buy a gun if he steals another identity (which is easy). What's the point of background checks when you can steal an identity with ease?

  9. +1 GMC70, though I'll add a bit to his thoughts.

    The pragmatist (what little there is) in me agrees in allowing private citizens to access the NICS system, but like Sevesteen, the prohibition of interstate sales should go away.

    The absolutist in me (which is the space I normally inhabit) says it's no problem even if you are a prohibited person because nothing I do or don't do will prevent you from getting a gun from someone, somewhere.

    The realist in me says that I'd rather have your firearm purchase money than see you give it to a black market thug who more than likely stole it from an honest citizen, especially since you'll get a gun no matter what I do.

    Now, no one I know (including myself) would sell a firearm to an individual who expressed intent to commit a crime - that's a slope too steep for me personally.

  10. I don't sell my guns- I'm still collecting. That being said, the moral repercussions of knowingly arming a felon or a violent person weigh more heavily on my mind than legal ramifications. Therefore, before I were to sell a gun, I would have to know the person, or have them vouched for by someone I trust. Past that- I am not responsible for anyone's actions other than my own (children, of course, excepted). If I sell someone a bike and they ride it into traffic, I didn't pedal it. Bottom line- more legal requirements are not necessary.

  11. How about we address a more serious issue. Here in Massachusetts all gun sales are done through the state and require presentation of an Firearms ID card that is only issued after a background check and live-fire training.

    But we have lots of gun crimes here.

    And before you go blaming neighboring states you might want to look at the numbers.

  12. Unlike some other gunowner advocates, I might be willing to compromise on this issue. Here some problems that need to be addressed:

    Gun shows often are on weekends. The current "instant" background checks would be no real problem, and that's what gun control advocates say they want. But dig a little deeper and one finds that most gun control advocates intend to later replace "instant" background checks with a mandatory waiting period of 5 days or more. More gunowners like me might support mandatory instant background checks on all sales at gun shows if gun control advocates would issue a clear and credible renunciation of their previously stated plans to later replace instant background checks with a mandatory waiting period of 5 days or more.

    Also: In some states that already require background checks on all guns sales at gun shows, gun control advocates continue their attack on gun shows in other ways. In California, which already requires background checks on all guns sales at gun shows, gun control advocates in various localities continue to try to prohibit gun shows in some of the most popular venues. More gunowners like me might support mandatory background checks on all sales at gun shows if gun control advocates would issue a clear and credible commitment to cease further attempts to attack gun shows in other ways.

  13. Hey dash,
    I had no intention of posting but when you posted this "So far I've gotten about 50 hits that I know of to this posting, but only two replies. So either you gun guys never sell to anyone you don't know, as GMC70 claims, or you are afraid to fess up. Which is it?? " it seemed like a dare so here goes...

    It is not my job to determine that a purchaser is not a criminal. All I have to do is determine that they live within the state and have no reason to believe that they are a criminal. So as long they don't have an Obama, Brady Bunch or Ceasefire bumper sticker and don't tell me they need it to rob a bank I will assume that they are honest citizens.

  14. Baldr Odinson,

    We'd feel better about you if you'd acknowledge this idea: From the comments here, we are a responsible group of people and not the extremists and lunatics that you make us out to be.