No Truth In (Americans for Gun Safety) Advertising
Wednesday, January 23, 2002
There they go again. The well-heeled lobbyists at "Americans for Gun Safety" apparently wouldn’t recognize the truth even if they stumbled over it. Witness the Roll Call ad today they tossed together claiming that "As Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge signed legislation requiring background checks for handgun and assault weapons sales at gun shows."
No part of this claim is true. The truth is that in praising Gov Ridge’s signing of "The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995," AGS ironically praises legislation that—unlike the bills it promotes—protected both gun shows and the rights of those who conduct them and those who attend them.
The requirements for transferring handguns between individuals in Pennsylvania were set in 1934. The legislation (known as Act 17) Gov. Ridge signed made no changes in the 1934 requirements under which someone may lawfully transfer a firearm at a gun show.
Act 17 specified that after the Pennsylvania instant check system became operational, all persons purchasing any firearm from a licensed dealer would be subject to a records check wherever the purchase was made. Act 17 continued the exemption of rifle and shotgun transfers from one individual to another from any requirement for a records check. And since the term "assault weapon" does not occur in Pennsylvania state law, we are at a loss to even guess why AGS makes this fraudulent claim.
The truth is that Gov. Ridge did not change gun show rules. What he did, ironically, is much closer to the NRA-supported Dingell provision than anything in the AGS-supported Reed or McCain-Lieberman-Schumer bills. Act 17 did:
(1) define gun shows in a manner that specifically recognized and respected their unique and temporary nature
(2) recognize the superiority and effectiveness of an instant record check system and eliminate the state’s 60-year-old waiting period on handgun purchases
(3) eliminate the need for a firearms dealer to obtain a separate license in each county where he might wish to conduct business at a gun show
The lies continue. AGS may claim "convicted felons have known about this loophole for years," but the truth is found in federal government studies. The Bureau of Justice Statistics report "Firearms Use by Offenders"—based on interviews with 18,000 prison inmates—found less than 1% of U.S. "crime guns" come from gun shows. This study, the largest such study ever conducted by the federal government, is entirely consistent with previous federal studies.
AGS also may stoop to injecting "terrorism" into the firearms policy debate, but its attempts to link of the case of an "IRA terrorist" and gun shows is built on serial lies. The criminal in question may be in prison, but the jury that convicted him dismissed the charge that he was an IRA terrorist. This, as AGS knows, is public record. More importantly, however, the guns in question were bought at gun shows by "straw" purchasers—absolutely nothing in the legislation AGS deceitfully promotes would have prevented those illegal acts.
The ad continues a pattern of deception seen as recently as last week. The AGS Foundation released a report, "Broken Records," claiming to document the need to mandate an indefinite waiting period for gun sales. State authorities have blasted the report as inaccurate.
AGSF "should be given a failing grade for its shoddy research," said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evank. "The fact is that the group did not contact State Police for information, which we would have been happy to supply. With accurate information, I think AGSF would have drawn a different conclusion."
South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon said of the AGSF report: "I think they’re putting out false information because of their desire to push gun control." He said South Carolina is "doing a good job in terms of checking people appropriately."
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and a local BATF agent say that just because some background checks are not completed within a three-day period does not mean illegal gun sales are the result. "We check all those out," said the BATF official in Kansas City, noting that "in many cases, it turns out the person shouldn’t have been blocked anyway." If alerted that an illegal buyer obtained a gun, the agency goes after him, the official said.
"It appears that they haven’t done their homework, because they give Ohio absolutely no credit for the effort that`s been put forth to date," Joe Case, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, said. "This group tries to paint the picture that nothing’s being done, especially on the accuracy of the automated data system. That’s just absolutely false."
For the record, AGS is an organization whose sole funder, a former Board member of Handgun Control, Inc., has a highly focused and barely hidden agenda—licensing law-abiding American gun owners and registering every firearm they own. Today’s issue of Roll Call which contained the AGS ad also published a letter by a Capitol Hill staffer who, as part of a AGS-sponsored field trip, recently attended a Richmond, Va., gun show. That staffer came away convinced that AGS’s agenda is nothing less than the "national registration and licensing and eventual outlawing of firearms."
Americans for Gun Safety has no members, no gun safety programs, and now no credibility.
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