Barack Obama’s careless statement that “it’s easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable,” is just one example of misleading rhetoric about purchasing a firearm in the United States. Sadly, it has become quite the common misconception that guns are easy to purchase, perhaps too easy, which is why so many criminals are armed with them. Unfortunately, this huge misunderstanding of the actual laws and regulations–which have been in place for years–has tainted the public’s perception of the true process that’s required of every gun manufacturer in order to avoid penalties.
The half-truths and blatant lies about gun sales and how criminals obtain firearms in the first place have either zero basis or are being partially reported to skew the public’s view of gun facts. It is unfortunate that the public has been so misled about the truth behind current gun control laws.
To form an accurate opinion on guns in this country, people should take time to research and further understand the facts behind crime rates and the actual purchasing processes of firearms before believing the assumptions handed to them. It is important to remain informed and to actively pursue understanding of the legal process behind buying a firearm, the true crime rates and statistics and what law enforcement really thinks about it.
Gun Shows Debunked
The media has misconstrued the ease with which a citizen can buy a firearm at a gun show in order to support their claim that such conventions are supermarkets for convicts and criminals looking to obtain fire power. The Bureau of Justice Statistics show that only 0.7 percent of state inmates purchased their firearms at gun shows, and that less than one percent of “crime guns” were bought at gun shows.
Licensed gun dealers, through online sales and non-private sales, are held to stringent rules set by the federal government. The Office of the Inspector General reports that gun dealers with federal firearms licensees through ATF are legally permitted to manufacture, import or deal in firearms. Regardless of the venue, licensed gun dealers are legally permitted to complete the sale of a firearm with a proper background check and a gun show is no exception to this rule.
The popular misconception that 25-50 percent of vendors at gun shows are “unlicensed dealers” is a perfect example of yet another piece of false information. There is no such thing as an “unlicensed dealer,” only private sellers — people who buy and sell antique firearms as a hobby (i.e., not a business). In fact, the only conceivable way someone could come up the a 25-50 percent figure of “unlicensed dealers” would be to include all dealers and vendors at the event, not only firearm vendors. That figure includes knife makers, ammunition dealers, clothing vendors, even bumper sticker vendors.
When licensed dealers are making off-site gun sales, they are legally obligated to abide by the federal laws and regulations set forth to deem the sale of a firearm legal. The process in-store is no different than the process at gun shows or online. To undergo a background check, prospective gun buyers are required by federal regulations to present photo-identification issued by a government entity.
As for private individuals, under federal law, these individual sellers are allowed to freely sell or transfer a firearm to any person living in the same state without requiring a background check. However, federal law also states that private sellers who have any knowledge of the recipient falling into one of the prohibited categories below are committing a crime and can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
When purchasing a firearm online, the process is the same as buying in store or at a gun-show. The person purchasing the firearm under their name will be required to complete and pass a background check in accordance with their jurisdiction. Once they are cleared and deemed legally permitted to purchase a firearm, the sale can be processed and the information can be saved. The firearm cannot be shipped to the purchaser but to a local dealer or store. For example, if you were to purchase a firearm from Smith & Wesson through a reputable retailer, you would only be allowed to pick up the firearm from a local store.
As you can see, the purchasing process isn’t a walk in the park, and it is most certainly not as simple as buying groceries. There are legal steps that must be taken in order to correctly, and legally, obtain a firearm from any licensed dealer in order to limit the amount of criminals and dangerous individuals who can get their hands on guns. Guns that are obtained illegally should be the main focus of gun control in order to protect citizens.
The View Behind the Badge
In truth, law enforcement officials do not report concerns about firearms purchased at gun shows, which shouldn’t come as a surprise when the National Institute of Justice reports the current rate for “crime guns” that were originally purchased at gun shows is 0.7 percent and steadily dropping. Consider the gun policy and law enforcement survey held in 2013 by PoliceOne stating that out of 15,000 officers, 91 percent believe concealed carry should be permitted to citizens “without question and without further restrictions.”
Even the 17th Annual National Survey of Police Chiefs & Sheriffs found that 94 percent of law enforcement officials believe that citizens should be able to purchase firearms for self-defense and sporting purposes. The FBI concluded in their 2006 study, Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers, that in contrast to media myth, none of the “handguns connected with this study were obtained from gun shows” and zero percent of firearms acquired from gun shows were used in police killings.
Casea Peterson is a writer and content marketing specialist in the outdoor industry. She has been writing personally and professionally since 2009, but when she doesn’t have her pen in hand she can be found somewhere in the woods hiking, hunting, or exploring the Pacific Northwest.