Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Michael Bloomberg’s and MAIG’s Deceptive “Gun Show Loophole” Ad Campaign

Monday, April 26, 2010

During April 2010, television ads paid for by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), hit the airwaves in selected areas. The ads say, “The Columbine school massacre. The killers got their guns because of a gap in the law, called the ‘gun show loophole’. . . . Close the ‘gun show loophole.’”The claim, and the implication that the Columbine crime would have been prevented if the so-called “loophole” had already been “closed,” are absolutely false. Some clarification of the Bloomberg-MAIG terminology and soundbite is in order:

  • By “gap” and “loophole,” Bloomberg and MAIG mean that while federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to screen prospective purchasers of firearms through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), it does not require persons who aren’t licensed dealers to use NICS. (NICS, established in 1998, before the Columbine crime, checks prospective purchasers of firearms against a national database of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms, such as felons, fugitives and illegal aliens.)
  • By “close the gun show loophole,” Bloomberg and MAIG mean that they want all sales of firearms at gun shows to be screened through NICS. 

The Bloomberg-MAIG theory is flawed, because the woman who—as a straw purchaser for the Columbine criminals—bought three of their four firearms at a gun show, wasn’t prohibited from possessing firearms and therefore would have passed a NICS check if she had bought the firearms from a licensed dealer. And, contrary to what MAIG claims, the Columbine criminals didn’t acquire their fourth firearm from a gun show.1 While Bloomberg and MAIG attribute the Columbine crime to the lack of a gun control law which, as noted, would have been irrelevant to the crime, the recommendations of the Colorado Governor’s Columbine Review Commission Report focused on “improving law enforcement and rescue responses” and “better early detection and safety measures in our schools.”

Moreover, Bloomberg and MAIG aren’t telling the whole story about the bills they support to “close the gun show loophole”—H.R. 2324 (Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del.) and S. 843 (Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.).2 Both bills contain provisions that would drive gun shows out of business:

  • H.R. 2324 would impose a “vendor” requirement with which no one could comply. Both bills define “vendor” to include any gun show customer who brings a firearm to a show—even to sell it to a dealer—or who doesn’t bring a firearm, but who mentions to someone at a show that he might be interested in selling a firearm. H.R. 2324 would require show operators to notify the Attorney General, in writing, no later than 30 days in advance of the show, of the name of every “vendor.” Of course, there is no way that a show promoter can know 30 days (or 30 seconds) in advance who is going to attend a show, who might bring a firearm to sell, or who might talk with someone about selling a firearm.
  • Both bills seek to register gun owners. Because of how the bills define “vendor,” a gun show promoter would be forced to have everyone who attends a show sign the ledger. And the bills require that the “vendor” ledgers be available to BATFE inspectors. Many privacy-conscious Americans would refuse to sign a ledger just to walk around a show, and that would reduce gun show attendance.
  • Both bills would require registration of gun shows. S. 843 would additionally allow the Attorney General to charge an unspecified fee for registering a gun show. The power to set prohibitively expensive fees is the power to destroy, of course.
  • Both bills would authorize the BATFE to conduct warrantless inspections of the required “vendor” (customer) ledger and all records of licensed firearm dealers while dealers are at shows to conduct business. Normally, recordkeeping compliance inspections are conducted at prearranged times, when convenient. The warrantless inspection requirement would allow interruptions of dealers while they’re in the middle of conducting business, which would discourage them from participating in shows.
Additional points to consider include:
  • Gun shows account for a very small percentage of criminals’ guns. The largest study of the subject ever conducted by the federal government found that only 0.7 percent of prison inmates who had used guns, had obtained their guns from gun shows.3 Another federal study found only 1.7 percent of federal prison inmates obtained their guns from gun shows.4 A earlier study found less than two percent of criminals’ guns came from gun shows.5 An FBI study of criminals who attacked law enforcement officers found “None of the [criminals’] rifles, shotguns, or handguns … were obtained from gun shows or related activities.” Ninety-seven percent of guns in the study were obtained illegally.6
  • Under federal law, it is illegal to “engage in the business” of “dealing in firearms” (buying and selling firearms as a regular business with the objective of profit) without a federal license. Violations carry a five year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.7
  • Firearm sales have been increasing and the nation’s murder rate is at a 45-year low.8

Notes:
1. MAIG incorrectly claims “All four guns used in the Columbine shootings were bought from private sellers at gun shows.” (Press release, April 20, www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr002-10.shtml.)
2. H.R. 2423 is the “Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2009.” S. 843 is the “Gun Show Background Check Act of 2009.” On p. 34 of its “Blueprint” www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/blueprint_federal_action.pdf, MAIG endorses the bills.
3. Caroline Wolf Harlow, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Firearm Use by Offenders,” Nov. 2001, p. 6.
4. John Scalia, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Firearm Offenders, 1992-98, June 2000, p. 10.
5. Pamela K. Lattimore, National Institute of Justice, “Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities: Trends, Context and Policy Implications,” Dec. 1997, p. 99.
6. Anthony J. Pinizzotto, “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers,” Aug. 2006, p. 53.
7. 18 USC 922(a)(1)(A), 18 USC 921(a)(21)(C), and 18 USC 924(a)(1).
8. Firearm sales: www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/Total%20NICS%20Background%20Checks.pdf. Murder rate: See www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_04.html for the 2008 murder rate and www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel09/stats_122109.htm indicating a 10 percent decrease during the first half of 2009. See http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Search/Crime/State/TrendsInOneVar.cfm for earlier years. Data for 1960-2008 are presented in convenient form on the NRA-ILA website at www.nraila.org/crime/us.xls.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Gun Shows
TRENDING NOW
Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

Democrats searching for a standard-bearer in the 2020 presidential election lit on long-time entertainment, media, and publishing figure Oprah Winfrey this week, following a speech Winfrey gave at a televised Hollywood extravaganza.

Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

This week, Virginia Governor McAuliffe and Governor-Elect Ralph Northam outlined their top priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and highlighted expanded background checks for all firearm sales and other transfers (so-called “universal” background checks) as ...

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

On Monday, January 15th at 10:00AM, the Senate Law & Justice Committee is scheduled to hear multiple anti-gun bills.  Testimony will be limited during the hearing, so all NRA members and Second Amendment supporters are strongly ...

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Last night, anti-gun legislators introduced substitute bills for Senate Bill 5444 and Senate Bill 5463.  These substituted versions will replace the original bills that are scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, January 15th. NRA remains opposed ...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Florida Alert: League of Women Voters Off The Rails

On Thursday, January 11, 2018, the League of Women Voters’ lobbyist, Stephanie Owens of Tallahassee, was in the House Judiciary Committee meeting to oppose HB-55 on behalf of the League.        

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

With the 2018 Indiana legislative session underway, a number of bills affecting your Second Amendment and hunting rights have been filed.

Washington: Gun Control Bill Scheduled for Vote in House Judiciary

Friday, January 12, 2018

Washington: Gun Control Bill Scheduled for Vote in House Judiciary

Next Thursday, January 18th, House Bill 1122 is scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. Introduced by Representative Ruth Kagi (D-34) in 2017, HB 1122 received a public hearing last year and a ...

Unhappy New Year for California Gun Owners

News  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Unhappy New Year for California Gun Owners

While most of America was busy preparing to celebrate the New Year, gun owners in California were scrambling to lawfully purchase ammunition while they still could. Beginning January 1, all ammunition sales were required go ...

Colorado: Pro-Gun Legislators Renew Push to Repeal Magazine Limit

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Colorado: Pro-Gun Legislators Renew Push to Repeal Magazine Limit

Yesterday, Senator Owen Hill, and Representatives Lori Saine and Stephen Humphrey introduced Senate Bill 52, legislation that seeks to repeal the misguided 2013 law that limited the amount of ammunition a firearm magazine can hold.

Virginia: Dangerous Gun Control Agenda Looming as Legislature Convenes for its 2018 Legislative Session

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Virginia: Dangerous Gun Control Agenda Looming as Legislature Convenes for its 2018 Legislative Session

As the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes for the 2018 session, it is more imperative than ever for NRA members and gun owners to make their voice heard.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.