From 1977 until 2015, I held federal firearms licenses in 4 different states. These licenses allowed me to operate as a retail dealer, a whole distributor, an importer, and a manufacturer of guns. Altogether, probably some 20,000 guns were registered under the licenses I held for those 38 years.
During that period of time, probably somewhere around 4 million Americans were either or seriously injured by guns, of which I personally learned about one death — a suicide — and one injury — an accidental discharge — occurred with guns that had one way or another been connected to a transaction which I made.
Does that mean that I did everything as a federal licensee exactly according to the law? In fact, at one point the ATF cited me for extensive violations of the requirements which governed retail transactions because we abbreviated an entry on the 4473 background-check form, and abbreviations on the form constituted a federal offense punishable — ready? — for five years in jail.
Of course, had the ATF taken me to court and charged me with this violation, the presiding judge would have told the prosecutor to find something more serious to do with his time. Which, by the way, happens to be the reason why so many of these alleged ‘criminal’ activities by federally licensed gun dealers are never taken to court. Do you really think that because I wrote ‘MA’ when I was supposed to write ‘Massachusetts’ on a 4473 form that I should have been charged with the commission of a federal crime?
Don’t get me wrong. Of course, there are gun dealers who consciously skirt or break the law because they want to earn some extra bucks. I’m sure there are car dealers who sell cars which they ‘guarantee’ have been fully inspected before they are put out in the ‘pre-owned’ lot.
But the idea which comes up time and again that we can make gun violence numbers go way down by imposing more thorough and strict controls over how dealers sell guns sounds good and gets all kinds of support from Gun-control Nation, but it’s simply not true.
The latest attempt to regulate federally licensed gun dealers is an attempt by the ATF to come up with a definition of the word ‘dealer’ which will make it both easier for the government to control…