Gun control advocates regularly claim that gun laws work. They supposedly keep guns from going to people they shouldn’t. They swear it with all the vehemence they can muster.
That’s why it’s hilarious that an attorney for a gun control group has advocated for people to commit what would be an illegal act.
On Tuesday, state Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, and William Rosen, an Everytown attorney, presented a universal background check bill. It mirrored the initiative, Question 1, passed in 2016. The only difference is that it requires state-run background checks on private-party firearm sales and transfers. The initiative required the FBI to run those checks, but the feds refused — which is why it never went into effect.
The proposal, Senate Bill 143, exempts some exchanges, including ones that occur between immediate family members. That includes spouses, parents and children, but not in-laws. Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno, shared that she bought her first firearm from her sister-in-law and previously received hunting rifles from her father-in-law. Tolles asked if those transfers would now result in a gross misdemeanor.
“In those instances, the simplest solution would probably be for your spouse or your sibling, if they took possession of the gun and then gave the gun to you,” Rosen said.
That’s a logical solution with one small problem. That would be a straw purchase, which is a crime punishable by 10 years in jail.
Under federal law, a straw purchaser is someone who obtains a firearm intending to transfer it to someone else. The goal is to stop someone without a criminal record from buying a gun for someone who can’t obtain one legally. Having purer motives doesn’t make it any less illegal. None of that seemed to occur to Rosen — until a gun store owner pointed it out while testifying against the bill.
Rosen’s response was terrible advice but an excellent illustration of the best argument against the bill.
That’s the problem that many gun control supporters don’t get. There are already a ton of gun control laws in this country, many of which no one is trying to overturn. That includes laws against straw purchases.
Yet doing what Rosen suggests here is illegal.
I’m going to give Rosen the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s operating under an assumption of his own, namely that you know none of the people involved are felons. After all, if no one is a felon, what’s the harm, right?
Well, what’s the harm in me selling a gun to my buddy who I know damn good and well isn’t a felon without making him undergo a background check? What’s the harm in buying a gun from a guy I meet on Facebook since I know I’m not a felon?
“Oh, but what if you’re wrong?” someone might counter, and it’s a fair counter.
Then again, what if someone has lied to their in-laws for years and can’t legally own a firearm? He’s now giving advice–remember, he’s also an attorney–that tells people to ignore the law and potentially arm a felon.
Realistically, that’s not likely. But neither is a lawful purchase without a background check likely to arm a pile of felons. As we’ve already seen, criminals are buying guns on the black market, not from law-abiding citizens, anyway.
I just wonder if Rosen even thought about what he was saying before he opened his mouth.