No one will be surprised to learn that gun control advocates aren’t big fans of gun stores. It doesn’t matter how carefully a gun store complies with the rules, even going above and beyond the law to try and keep guns out of the wrong hands, it’ll never be enough for those people.
Yet most gun stores find that complying with the rules to be tricky. There are times when they get warning letters from the ATF, which is probably not a happy fun time for any FFL holder.
Now, though, a gun control group has decided to create a map of these gun stores, as if they’re actually arming criminals.
The oft-rebranded gun control organization currently calling itself Brady United Against Gun Violence (Brady) launched a website this week called The Gun Store Transparency Project.
This site is the result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation Brady engaged in against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to obtain certain ATF reports from inspections of Federal Firearm Licensees. Brady is now making those reports available to the public.
These reports, however, are not a random or representative sampling of ATF’s inspection efforts but contain only those “in which the ATF issued an FFL a Warning Letter or more severe remedy … .”
In other words, the site completely ignores any inspection report — which in 2020 comprised over 60% of them — that did not result in findings of violations or sanctions.
Brady claims the purpose of the website is so “the American public will no longer be kept in the dark about businesses that contribute to gun violence in their communities, and whether federal authorities are failing to hold them accountable.”
Except, that’s not actually what’s happening.
See, while people see these things and think this is some serious violation like these gun stores are knowingly selling to straw buyers or felons, the truth is quite different.
Instead of arming criminals, warning letters are typically issued over things like bookkeeping errors. transpose a couple of digits on a gun’s serial number? That can get you a warning letter.
But Brady doesn’t actually clarify that for anyone.
Instead, they put up a map with dots all over the place. If you don’t know any better, you’d swear gun stores everywhere are willfully selling guns to just anyone. That’s not even remotely the case.
Oh, you can dig deeper and read the inspection report, but most people are going to see that warning letter and think gun stores are getting away with stuff.
But the anti-Second Amendment folks at the Brady Gun Store Transparency Project are hoping you’ll be scared enough to support various gun control policies which they’ll helpfully provide. Those policies will make it more difficult for gun stores to operate, all because of an attempt at misdirection.
The problem here, though, is that nothing is technically a lie. Everything on the site is accurate, and as such it’s not actionable for those stores showing up on the map.
Yet it’s a prime example of using the truth to paint an inaccurate picture. They know that the average American is completely unaware of what any of that means, so they’ll take “warning letter” to mean some kind of soft action for something particularly vile.
Otherwise, why bother listing it, right?
Well, we know the truth. We know they list it because they’re counting on that ignorance.
It’s a cheap trick, but at this point, we know that cheap tricks are about all that Brady has left in their arsenal. Especially as support for gun control continues to plummet.