Skip to main content

There's an article on Media Matters today concerning "Nine Media Myths About Proposals To Strengthen Gun Laws". The entire piece is worth reading, but just to pick one issue from it, I'm choosing two related myths about the private sale, aka 'gun show,' loophole.

I'd heard of scare tactics involving the 'gun show loophole,' in that requiring background checks on all private sales would supposedly outlaw them. What I did not know is that the NRA tried to float the claim that the loophole does not even exist. These are myths, of course, with data to support their unceremonious busting. The problem that arises is when they go unchallenged, as one particular forum has been established for the care and feeding of BS.

I'll give you three guesses but I think you'll only need just one...

So, here is Media Matters explaining the presentation of mythology in regard to the mere existence of a private sale loophole. I suppose it would be a time-saver, wouldn't it? Shut down the whole argument by pretending there is no such loophole. Naturally, they have tried.

MYTH: There Is No Such Thing As The Private Sales Loophole

NRA News Host Cam Edwards: People Prohibited From Owning Firearms Cannot Exploit The Private Sales Loophole. During the January 3 edition of Cam & Company on NRA News, host Cam Edwards first told guest Jim Geraghty, who writes for the National Review Online, that Geragthy was "incorrect" in his assumption that background checks are not required at gun shows. Edwards would later acknowledge that private sellers at gun shows conduct sales without running a background check on customers, but he also claimed that it was impossible for individuals prohibited from owning firearms under federal law from obtaining weapons through this process.  

Using the standard method of blatant lie with later correction, Cam Edwards of Cam & Company on NRA News tells his impressionable young guest (heh, from the National Review Online) that he is flat out incorrect in thinking that background checks are not required at gun shows.

Now, one might think that if this premise is incorrect, that this would mean that background checks are required at gun shows. And they go on with their song & dance mocking the media and everything they've told me is wrong! and so on. And then, quietly slipped in is the part about how private sellers don't have to perform background checks except in some states.

They go on to discuss folks who are not permitted to purchase a gun and whether or not they can do so through private sales. Cam Edwards of the NRA responds with "not legally." Which actually settles the issue for them. As if that stops anyone. Now, this is the same organization that tells us how criminals won't abide by whatever tough legislation is passed to try to curb gun violence. The same message of futility and despair offered by gun enthusiasts, even here. The same message I do not take lightly and which I answer with better enforcement and further refinement of proposed legislation. And yet this loophole is permitted to go on because "not legally" means no one will ever do it...right?

Media Matters goes on to debunk this myth using, of all places, Politifact, which reviewed some statements made in July 2012 by Michael Bloomberg.

"We don't need more laws. We need a couple of fixes," Bloomberg said. "There's a loophole where you can sell guns without a background check at a gun show, 40 percent of guns are sold that way, same thing on the Internet. … The NRA has opposed anything."
This is what Politifact presents for fact-checking. This seems like a simple enough claim; 40%. What evidence did they evaluate?
Bloomberg’s office pointed us to a 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice on who owns guns and how they use them.The researchers estimated that about 40 percent of all firearm sales took place through people other than licensed dealers. They based their conclusion on a random survey of more than 2,500 households.
All right then, and for the Internet?
The City of New York commissioned an investigation of Internet gun sales. The report said on 10 websites, it found over 25,000 weapons for sale.The report said that over 60 percent of sellers allowed a purchase to move forward even when the alleged buyer said he didn’t believe he would pass a background check. Sellers who used Craigslist were most likely to violate the law, the report said.
Okay...and in typical Politifact fashion, they chose to rate this "mostly true," because the information is outdated, even though the ATF had nothing newer to provide to Politifact, and even though the NRA did not even bother responding to them. Even though Bloomberg and other gun control advocates know this, want new research, and rightly blame the NRA for opposing it. In spite of verifying the facts involved and finding nothing to rebut them, they go with "mostly true." Thanks, Politifact.

Media Matters, at least, goes on to document the exploitation of the private gun sale loophole, and mentions the undercover investigators from NYC that tested how many sellers would go ahead with a sale even after they specifically mentioned not being able to pass a background check.

So I guess they're not always required at gun shows, and not everything the media have told you is wrong, no special sunglasses are required to see the truth hidden from society...

Shot from John Carpenter's They Live
In another myth related to the private sale/'gun show' loophole, Media Matters spells out the mythology behind the claim that actually closing this supposedly nonexistent loophole would ban citizens from selling their guns at all.
MYTH: Closing The Private Sales Loophole Would Prohibit Private Citizens From Selling Firearms

Fox Regular Kate Obenshain On Fox & Friends: Prohibiting "Individuals From Being Able To Sell Guns To Other Individuals" Is What "Closing The Gun Show Loophole Is About." During a January 8 appearance on Fox News, Obenshain suggested that closing the private sales loophole would mean that gun owners could no longer sell firearms to a "buddy down the street." [Fox & Friends, 1/8/13]

Now, I already know from the previous mythbusting that the NRA understands this is not true. As Cam Edwards reported (ha!) in the video clip, some states like California require background checks on all private sales. Does this mean that in some states, there are no private sales of guns? Well. Um, no. Not so much. Last month, in Michigan, the execrable governor Rick Snyder made news for vetoing legislation to allow concealed carriers in schools. And at the same time, he approved legislation to streamline the existing process for background checks during private gun sales in his state. Even Rick Snyder knows that background checks are performed on all private gun sales in Michigan, and that such sales do go on.

And according to Media Matters, there was even a bill in the Senate introduced to require background checks at gun shows, which would not prohibit private sales. Let me guess, died in committee? Of course. I wonder if he'd have better luck with it this year. Perhaps Harry Reid would refuse it as having no hope in the House, like, I don't know...everything.

Gun Show Loophole Legislation Introduced In Previous Congress Permitted Private Sales. S. 35, a bill introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) during the 112th Congress to establish background check procedures for gun shows, would have allowed private sellers to make sales at gun shows through licensed dealers. [S. 35 via Government Printing Office, accessed 1/9/13]
Incidentally, about Kate Obenshain, Media Matters' poster pundit for this particular debunked myth. She is a regular Fox News 'contributor,' hell, she's got her own website trumpeting the fact. Not the first time she's dabbled in pro-gun mythology on Fox, either.
Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) outrageous "assault weapons" ban bill is no assault weapons ban. It's objective: to ban guns. This, coming from the woman who was packing heat in her purse with a concealed weapons permit in San Francisco before she ran for the United States Senate. Ah, yes, do what I say, not what I do. I am the liberal elite and I know what's best for you. . . .
This purposeful confusion of 'assault weapons ban' with 'gun ban' looked familiar when I saw it in my last diary on guns over the weekend. Like the busted myth about banning private sales, it's a scare tactic. And perhaps it works over at Fox, where this sort of rhetorical excrement passes for journalism. Just reading through the Media Matters article, it appears they had to struggle to find media sources other than Fox with which to document these nine myths. Of the nine, I counted five that were just Fox, one courtesy of a Washington Times writer (on Fox), one from Fox and Meet the Press (honestly, David Gregory...SMH), and a couple straight from the NRA, one with an assist from CNN (which wishes it were Fox).

Fox stands out as the culprit here, and on Media Matters in general in my experience. But here I see them offering a great contribution to the myth-making, providing a 'news' outlet for falsehood, giving lies the blessing of their alleged journalistic ethics and calling them truth. In that respect they are like priests to me, preaching BS under a cloak of false authority.

It's sad to see it here as well, that is, until it's demolished.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:16 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site