virus gun store sales

(AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

In an article titled “Dangerous Gaps in Gun Laws Exposed by the Coronavirus Gun Sales Surge”  the Center for American Progress went on at some length regarding their belief the COVID-19-related gun sales spike proves there are too many loopholes in gun laws:

Just as the coronavirus pandemic has exposed gaps within the U.S. health care and economic systems, the surge in gun sales during this period brings to the forefront weaknesses in the current laws and systems governing the sale and ownership of firearms and ammunition. Far too many gun sales are allowed to proceed without background checks, and gun owners face minimal legal requirements to ensure that guns are handled and stored safely.

What loopholes are they referring to in what they claim is non-partisan reporting? First claim say there’s a problem with the NICS system:

…the current system contains serious flaws that allow guns to continue to be sold without background checks, undermining other crucial gun safety laws, enabling gun trafficking, and stymying efforts to solve gun-related crimes. These flaws predate the current surge in gun sales; however, the increased volume in sales is putting unprecedented pressure on the system and exacerbating its weaknesses.

First up is the three days the FBI has to run a background check. As you all know, once three days passes, if there is no definitive answer on the background check, the FFL can make their own judgment call on the gun sale.

That isn’t exactly true everywhere, though. In Wisconsin, for example:

The Department of Justice has five days to approve or deny. And if for some reason a firearm is handed over before the background check is completed, the Justice Department contacts both the local police department and the ATF to recover the weapon.

According to CAP:

If the FBI has not concluded the investigation after three days, the seller has the discretion to proceed with the sale despite the lack of an affirmative finding that the individual is eligible to buy a firearm. These sales are called “default proceed” sales.9 The default proceed sale process has become known as the “Charleston loophole” because it allowed the shooter who committed a horrific hate crime in 2015 at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to obtain his firearm.10 Allowing gun sales to proceed without a completed background check enables individuals who are prohibited from gun possession to evade the law and buy guns.

CAP also gets into private sales, lack of mandatory waiting periods, and the usual gun control talking points But they go a step further expressing their desire for mandatory training on a national level:

…there are no requirements that a prospective gun owner must demonstrate any level of proficiency with a firearm and no mandates on how guns should be stored or carried to prevent against theft and unauthorized access. Again, these concerns predate the coronavirus pandemic. However, the current influx of first-time gun buyers raises new concerns about the thousands of new gun owners bringing deadly weapons into their homes without the proper supports to ensure that they are able to do so safely.

Then, of course, there’s safe storage:

A 2018 study found that roughly half of all gun owners store at least one of their guns without any lock or secure storage device, and a national survey of gun owners conducted in 2015 found that an estimated 4.6 million children in the United States live in homes that contain an unlocked firearm. However, this problem is exacerbated by the influx of first-time gun owners who may not have availed themselves of training programs or safe storage devices. While federal law does require licensed gun dealers to offer gun locks at the point of sale for every purchase, it places no onus on the gun owner to actually use them.

Did the pandemic theater we’re currently experiencing somehow do something to thrust guns into the hands of more criminals? No, it did not. Does the federal background check system fail often? No, it does not, and when it has, the errors aren’t as simple as this article makes them sound.

One thing I will say is that if the existing laws regarding gun sales were actually used properly, that would be fine. Laws, however, are imperfect and subject to human error. Just because a mistake is made does not mean there was malicious intent. And those mistakes are extremely rare in this particular system.

As for mandatory training and safe storage, it isn’t the government’s business to meddle how Americans choose to use and store their firearms. Should people be properly trained? Yes. Should you all be using good safes and storing your firearms responsibly? Of course. But getting the government involved is a slippery slope to random mandatory home inspections, increased restrictions on concealed carry, hunting, and more.

That, of course, doesn’t concern the deep thinkers at the Center for American Progress, whose claim of being non-partisan is laughable at best, but should concern gun owners. When you take the bait of “well sure, we do need gun owners to be trained” and invite the government to handle it, things always go sideways.

Trying to say that the coronavirus has made all kinds of problems with gun sales laws come to light is ludicrous at best. But then it really comes as no surprise opportunistic organizations and individuals are using the pandemic to push their agendas. What is it CAP wants? More restrictive gun control.

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