MCCain and Lieberman teamed up with Reed and DeWine to try and push their bill through congress. It was not about the so called "gunshow loophole" at all. It was about ending gun shows in the USA. This is long.
McCain-Reed Gun Show Bill: All Trick, No Treat
Introduced, appropriately enough, on Halloween, the McCain-Reed-DeWine-Lieberman gun show bill--S. 1807--masquerades as reform but imposes bureaucratic restrictions aimed at eliminating gun shows. It is based on the McCain-Lieberman bill (S. 890) from the 107th Congress, and like its parent, fails to address gun owners` most significant concerns and fails to fix real problems of the national instant check system.
S. 1807 is not about closing a "gun show loophole"--there is no "gun show loophole." Existing laws apply at gun shows just the same as any other place guns are sold. A tour of any gun show demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of guns offered for sale are from federally licensed dealers. Guns sold by private individuals (such as gun collectors selling a gun or two over the weekend) are the distinct minority. If someone claiming to be a gun collector is actually operating a firearms business and does not have a Federal Firearms License (FFL), he is guilty of a federal felony--every separate gun sale constitutes a separate federal felony.
S. 1807 is about eliminating gun shows. It would give any Second Amendment-hating Attorney General the power to effectively shut down gun shows, invade the privacy rights of American citizens, and impose many other restrictions that have nothing to do with conducting background checks on firearms purchases.
S. 1807 creates gun owner registration. "Special firearms event operators" would have to submit names of all "vendors" to the Attorney General both before and after the show--whether or not any of the vendors even sold a gun. A private citizen who enters a gun show hoping to sell or trade a firearm, does not make a deal and leaves with his own gun, would be on file in a U.S. Justice Department ledger forever as a "special firearms event vendor." Copies of the ledgers could be used for any future purpose.
S. 1807 turns casual conversations into "firearm transactions." A person who sees a gun offered for sale at a gun show, decides against buying it, then months or even years later changes his mind and contacts the seller, would still be subject to the background check requirement. This unworkable system would even apply to a gun that was discussed at a show without being exhibited. Any realistic, enforceable background check requirement must be limited to sales at an actual gun show, during the gun show, of guns that are present at the show.
S. 1807 imposes limitless regulations. The phrase "in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Attorney General" and similar language occurs throughout the bill. Show operators and vendors would have to comply with unknown regulations that could become as broadly restrictive as any future anti-gun administrator desires.
S. 1807 requires unnecessary new bureaucracy, creating "Special Firearms Event Operators," "Special Firearms Event Vendors" and "Special Firearms Event Licensees." And, there is no deadline for issuing the "Special Firearms Event License." In response to abusive gun dealer license enforcement, Congress has required that FFLs must be issued/denied within 60 days, and that the application may only be denied for a specific list of reasons. This basic due process protection is absent from McCain-Reed.
S. 1807 does not provide for true instant checks, and its "24-hour" wait is a smokescreen. The bill provides that the wait "may" be reduced to 24 hours--if a state applies for the privilege after improving its records. But with no real incentives for states or the federal government to improve records, there is no reason to think that the 24-hour check would ever be achieved. And with a three-business day period still allowed to check out-of-state records, a few large states could drag down the whole scheme for all transfers across the nation.
S. 1807 gives no priority to gun show checks. Gun show checks should be expedited over others, simply due to the temporary nature of the events and the distances both sellers and buyers travel to attend.
S. 1807 makes no instant check improvements. Unlike S. 890, the bill provides no funding for criminal history upgrades.
Most importantly, S. 1807 ignores the facts--multiple federal government studies prove gun shows are not a source of "crime guns."
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2001 report "Firearms Use by Offenders," the largest such study ever conducted by the government, found that less than 1% of U.S. "crime guns" come from gun shows.
A 2000 BJS study, "Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98," found only 1.7% of federal prison inmates obtained their gun from a gun show.
A National Institute of Justice 1997 study, "Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities," reported less than 2% of criminal guns come from gun shows.
S. 1807 isn`t about controlling crime; it is about controlling free speech. The attack on gun shows makes no sense as a crime control measure. It is strictly driven by an anti-gun political agenda. Closing gun shows means shutting down one of the most important venues for Second Amendment activists to communicate with other gun owners. That`s the real goal