I am writing in response to your article about Jewish groups joining with Washington Ceasefire to close the “gun show loophole” (“Jewish groups take lead on gun control issues,” Dec. 8). This seemingly simple issue is actually fairly complex and readers would be best served by giving them all the facts they need to really understand the issue.
The fact that background checks are not required by law for non-dealers at gun shows is an intentional limitation of the law and really should be presented as such, not like an accidental oversight in the originally drafted legislation.
State [and federal law] primarily addresses the legal steps required for sale by a dealer; they were not meant to require private citizens to route all sales through an active state database or registry, which is the ultimate aim of this disingenuous “loophole” argument. If the aim is to ban private sales between individuals, groups endorsing such legislation ought to say so, not “discover” one loophole after another to increase the scope of the law incrementally.
Further, the largest gun shows in the state have already enacted a system above and beyond the requirements of the law, which fulfill the stated aims of the “loophole” argument without increasing state involvement. For example, the Washington Arms Collectors require WAC membership for any sale or purchase of a firearm at their shows. WAC membership includes a background check for all prospective members. That means that only people who have passed some form of a background check can buy or sell a firearm at their venues.
Yet these organizations, that are already taking sensible steps by going above and beyond legal requirements to protect the public from felons with guns, would be severely injured by poorly crafted legislation meant to force them to do what they are already doing.
For example, 2005’s version would have forced WAC to send patrols around the neighborhoods where their gun shows were held, tasked with preventing any private sales. This would be very costly and those patrol members would be tasked with preventing any private sale, yet what legal right would they have to prevent a sale between two people who weren’t even at the show? This is petty vindictiveness, not “common sense” legislation.
Sensible gun legislation needs to be adopted through clear, honest debate, not by working the public up by dishonest propaganda like the constant discovery of loopholes. It also needs to be done fairly.
I drove up to Olympia on short notice last year, losing a half-day of pay. Yet Washington Ceasefire was given notice of the judiciary committee date several days before it was made public. Despite the late notice, there were about five times as many people opposing these gun laws as endorsing them. Yet the judiciary committee chose equal numbers from both sides to testify, as if anti-gun attendees weren’t drastically in the minority. Much of the legislation also strangely invoked the “emergency” clause, so that if citizens wished to overturn a bad law, it would have to be done through an initiative instead of a referendum, with much higher requirements.
Democrats have been seeking a chance to govern since their gun control extremists eroded the party’s support in the early ’90s, both in Washington State and at the U.S. capital. The new legislature needs to avoid gun law extremism if they are going to have significant time in office to pass legislation that represents the positive side of the Democrat ideal.