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Thread: Dean considers movement to clamp down on ‘gun show loophole’

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    By Nate Rau,

    Rick Uselton, owner of Rivergate’s Uselton Arms Inc., supports closing the so-called gun show loophole that allows private party gun sales without background checks. Matthew Williams/The City Paper A national movement among urban mayors against illegal guns and the so-called “gun show loophole” has made its way to Knoxville and Memphis. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said he is exploring joining that cause.

    Over 250 mayors from 40 states have signed on to the coalition, which seeks to cut down on the illegal purchasing and selling of guns. The first battlefront is eliminating the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows individual gun owners to sell to other private citizens without conducting background checks.

    As their latest television ad states, the movement has members who support presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and the two Democratic presidential finalists Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Among them are mayors of Tennessee’s two other major municipalities — Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.

    Dean, mayor of a city that hosts regular guns shows and has for almost three decades, said he is considering the idea.

    “I will look into the coalition and see if that’s something that can further the city’s public safety efforts,” Dean said.

    Background checks not required

    When an individual goes to a retail establishment with a federal firearms license — anywhere from the local gun shop to Wal-Mart — an instant background check is performed through a state agency like the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    The results of the background check typically come back within a few minutes and if the person passes, they are clear to purchase the gun.

    However, the laws in many states including Tennessee, allow gun sales to take place between individuals without a background check. For instance, if an individual gun owner wants to sell his or her rifle, they may place an advertisement in the newspaper. When someone comes to purchase that gun, a background check isn’t required.

    Such sales happen frequently at gun shows across the country, typically weekend events where licensed gun-dealers, firearms collectors and individuals can rent space to sell guns and other wares. Gun owners can also bring unloaded firearms into the shows and attempt to sell them both to dealers at tables or to other gun owners while walking the grounds of the show.

    A licensed gun dealer is required to perform a background check with TBI on any deals it conducts at gun shows, but not for individual owners looking to sell their personal firearms. The organized gathering of gun owners and dealers combined with the owner-to-owner sales has caused proponents of stricter gun laws dub this the “gun show loophole” to background check laws.

    “Not only is there no background check on the person purchasing the gun, there’s no record on the gun itself,” Rivergate Guns and Knives owner Rick Uselton said. “So the gun could be stolen and the person buying it back would never know.”

    Not a Second Amendment issue

    With one gun shop in Madison, another on the way in Franklin and his own custom gun manufacturing business, Uselton says he’s proudly “150 percent behind the Second Amendment.”

    Uselton is especially fond of the phrasing at the end of the amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    If the National Rifle Association was looking for a Nashville-area spokesman, Uselton would make perfect sense. Besides his gun shops and manufacturing business, he’s also a deputy sheriff in Sumner County.

    But there’s one issue where Uselton breaks the party line and that’s on the topic of perceived lackadaisical laws surrounding sales at gun shows.

    “In this era, the idea that there are places criminals can go and buy guns with no accountability, it doesn’t do my business any good and it doesn’t do law-abiding gun dealers any good,” Uselton said, referring to the loophole.

    David Goodman is a Kentucky-based gun show promoter who has brought gun shows to Nashville for about 25 years, mainly to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Goodman said the movement to require background checks at gun shows is misguided and unnecessary.

    “There is no such thing as the gun show loophole,” Goodman said. “The law applies equally no matter where you’re going to sell. Whether it’s the newspaper, your neighbor, the flea market, the same law applies to everybody.”

    Goodman, whose show comes to Nashville May 3-4, said efforts to clamp down on gun shows would effectively put him out of business.

    “One of the things that’s been mentioned is having all individuals who want to sell or purchase guns to register 72 hours in advance of the show,” Goodman said. “There’s just no way I could do that, how am I supposed to know in advance who all is coming into a show?”

    Goodman also maintains that a gun show would be a foolish place to conduct an illegal gun sale. Although background checks are not required, selling guns to a felon is illegal.

    “The place is crawling with ATF and TBI agents,” Goodman said. “At my shows, I’ve got a booth for the ATF, so why someone would do an illegal gun sale with the police right there, it doesn’t make sense. The whole movement is just a ploy.”

    An ATF spokesman acknowledged the agency does have a presence at gun shows, but disputed the notion they are “crawling with agents.”

    In the last few weeks, the mayors’ coalition has rolled out national television spots, which have begun running in Nashville.

    One of the coalition’s initiatives is to give cities and local governments the right to have their own illegal gun policies, including eliminating the gun show loophole.

    “From a public policy perspective, I absolutely believe quality of life issues are under our purview,” at-Large Councilwoman Megan Barry said. “We should be able to say what we want to happen in the confines of Davidson County. If that means restricting access to firearms, we should be within our rights to do it.”

    Not a widespread problem

    Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said the department has no reason to believe criminals purchasing guns at gun shows in Nashville is a widespread problem.

    “Are criminals purchasing guns on the streets? Yes. Is home burglary gun-theft a problem? Yes,” Aaron said. “Are criminals purchasing guns illegally at gun shows? I don’t know. I don’t have any reason to believe it’s a widespread problem.”

    The weight of the issue isn’t lost on Dean, who said spending most of his career as a public defender made the issue of illegal guns a personal one.

    “I know, having worked in the criminal justice system for much of my career, that an illegal firearm can turn a basketball game into a murder or a card game into a murder,” Dean said. “We need to do all that we can to keep guns out of the hands of juveniles and felons.”

    Aaron said the Crooks with Guns law passed last year, which gives harsher sentences and more difficult parole terms to illegal gun offenders, has led to 92 arrests already this year. Dean said initiatives like that are key in the fight against illegal guns.

    “[Metro Police Chief Ronald] Serpas and [District Attorney Torry] Johnson were part of the successful lobbying effort for the Crooks with Guns legislation and I support their ongoing effort to enhance the law by making it applicable to first time convicted armed robbers,” Dean said. “And I look forward to further exploring the coalition of mayors against illegal guns.”
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    Member Opinions:
    By: dugkim on 4/28/08
    The so-called 'gun show loophole' is simply the latest idea to regulate the private sale of firearms; a concept where anti-gunners and gun store owners surprisingly agree. Why, you may ask? Gun store owners want the end the private sale of firearms because it’s lost revenue. I take huge issue with Mr. Rau's assertion that Rick Uselton would be the ideal NRA spokesman. Pictured, Mr. Uselton violates one of the most basic safe firearm practices - keep your finger OFF the trigger until you are ready to shoot! This lack of basic safety and disregard for the public shows me that Mr. Uselton is a poser. To think he is a gun store owner and Sheriff to boot? Shame on Mr. Uselton.
    Please communicate to your readers that the picture is a dangerous misuse of firearms that violates one of the four (4) NRA Approved firearm safety rules:
    1) always treat a firearm as if it is loaded;
    2) always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction;
    3) always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and;
    4) always know what's behind your target.
    To blatently violate one of these basic principles so obviously is to demonstrate a COMPLETE lack firearms knowledge. Apparently to Mr. Uselton, the rules only apply to the other guy, which is why his opinion on this matter should be completely discounted.
    Mr. Uselton, may I recommend that you take a NRA sponsored refresher course on gun safety and until such time you can demonstrate proper handling of firearms, I suggest that you place yourself on leave of both your gun store commerce and your responsibilities as Sheriff in Sumner County.
    Mr. Dean, gun store owners want to end private sales of firearms; not because of any perceived gun show loophole, but because it hurts their pocketbooks. To do so is to expand the role of the government in our private law-abiding lives and to infringe on the intent of the Second Amendment.

    D. Ryan
    Franklin, TN
    By: Docpyro on 4/28/08
    CHECK THAT TRIGGER MR.!!!!!!!!!!!
    I agree, Mr. Uselton is a poser. Simply a businessman.
    Mr. Mayor .... stay out of my personal business. I break no laws. Infringe upon the criminal element not your tax paying law abiding citizens.
    By: tv8527 on 4/28/08
    You hit the nail on the head with that post.Unfortunately dean is a publicity nut & wants to grab on to a movement that has a lot of weight with the media. Never mind that home Burgarlies put more guns on the street than anything else.
    By: Vandy1975 on 4/28/08
    The brilliant simpletons in Nashville envision a scenario where one thug says to the other, "hang on, homes, I gots to run me a background check on yo a** before I sell you this Saturday Night Special I just stole."
    By: XD40Owner on 4/28/08
    Dear Rick Uselton (Uselton Arms Inc.),

    Because of your stance on the so-called "loophole", I will never step foot into your store(s). On top of that, it will also become my duty to inform fellow current and potential gun owners not to spend one red cent at your stores. With the invention of the internet, word travels quickly.

    As a store owner, your opinion on the matter is slightly one-sided, simply because you stand to profit from any such changes. Even if the so-called "loophole" is closed, you stand to lose much of your potential FFL transer business, because of your stance of the subject. A stance like yours may fly in places like California, Chicago and New York, but you sir, have forgetten where your roots are planted.

    Face it, criminals don't need/rarely use, if at all the so-called "loophole". I'm not saying that a criminal has never purchased a firearm while taking advantage of the so-called "loophole", but it's not nearly as often as some would like us to beleive. Criminals want guns, and criminals will get guns, with or without the so-called "loophole".

    As a member of law enforcement, maybe it would be a great idea to focus on the real issue at hand. The fact that we have criminals who aren't afraid, because LEO's and court systems are little more than a joke to them. With jails constantly bursting at the seams, they're often let go with little more than a slap on the wrist. They are already planning their next criminal activity before they even step foot out of the courthouse. Being arrested, and going to jail doesn;t seem to be a deterrent for the criminals, and you think closing the so-called "loophole" will? Not a chance.

    By the way, as a LEO, you should know your gun safety a little better than that. GET YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER!

    ****As far as our so-called "Mayor"-- Why not attempt to fix the crime in our area with a REAL solution. That's always been an issue with our politicians--Always looking for the easy way out. Just as long as it looks like you're actually doing something to fix something, right? Wait, it's always much easier to hurt the law-abiding citizen, because of your lack of skill at fixing the real issues at hand. Why not create a real deterrent against criminal activity? This smoke screen you're trying to use is a complete joke to the criminals who walk among us, and I'll bet the farm that our crime rate doesn't drop .00000000000000001% because of and such change. You collecting a pay check must be just as easy as it is for the generation after generation after generation after generation of project dwellers. There's something else you can pretend to fix. What a joke.

    ****As far as Nate Rau, You should leave your assumptions as to who would or wouldn't make a good NRA spokesman up to those who actually know something about the NRA. FYI, we'd prefer a spokesman who actually knows how to handle a firearm. That is what the NRA is all about, after all.
    By: Docpyro on 4/28/08
    Rock on XD40!!!

  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    Uselton is especially fond of the phrasing at the end of the amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Two paragraphs laters.

    “In this era, the idea that there are places criminals can go and buy guns with no accountability, it doesn’t do my business any good and it doesn’t do law-abiding gun dealers any good,” Uselton said, referring to the loophole.

    Shall not be infringed, Mr. Uselesston. Shall not be infringed.

    "He keeps-a using that word. I don't think that word means what he thinks it means."
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

  3. #3
    Regular Member
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    Bristow, Virginia, USA

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    Neither myself or my Cousin Howard want you to own a Gun.


    Karl Dean

  4. #4
    Moderator / Administrator
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    Fairfax County, Virginia, USA

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    of course many gun dealers want the government to force all gun transfersa to go thru . . . gun dealers.

  5. #5
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    Bristow, Virginia, USA

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    And once it is required watch those transfer fees move upward at the same rate as Fuel prices.......

  6. #6
    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Licensed gun collectors are federally licensed. They may purchase and sell Collectible and Relic (C&R) firearms in the course of interstate trade. Dealers may not sell handguns to out of state buyers. The net effect of "closing the loophole" is to outlaw licensed gun collecting at gun shows.

    No mention of how Dean can get around the 10th Amendment. (Private property transfer within a state does not equal interstate comerce.)

    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitableand let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come . PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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