Gun Control Sends Buyers Across Borders in Search of Freedom

AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File

The United States is a big nation, but unless you live in the middle of either Texas or Alaska, you're just a few hours from another state. Folks from other nations joke about how Americans don't travel, but they don't understand that driving the three and a half hours I spend to get to Atlanta would take someone from Paris and land them in England, Luxemburg, Belgium, or Germany.


Yet because we can cross state borders so it also makes things interesting with regard to gun control laws.

See, a lot of states want to enact restrictions. They're convinced that those restrictions will reduce people buying guns--they say it's about crime, but criminals aren't going into gun stores to buy firearms and haven't for decades.

But sometimes, it just forces consumers to take their business across the border.

The parking lot outside North Idaho Arms was quiet early one Saturday morning, but owner Bryan Zielinski soon expected it to fill with cars, many of them bearing Washington plates.

Most customers only travel 30 minutes or so from Washington's eastern cities. But on weekends, Zielinski says some make the five-hour drive from the Seattle area to buy magazines and other accessories outlawed in their own state.

"We're seeing people wanting to make the drive solely just to experience a little bit of freedom, the freedom that they lost in Washington," Zielinski said.


Zielinski opened his own gun store just a five-minute drive across the border from Washington. He spoke to Fox News Digital while sitting in front of a wall of semi-automatic rifles that are now illegal to make, purchase or sell in his former home state.

He can't sell the banned guns themselves to Washington residents because they require extra processes like a background check and would need to be transferred to a licensed dealer in Washington. But when it comes to replacement parts or magazines, Zielinski says he doesn't "card anybody for anything unless there's a serial number on it."

"We follow all federal laws. We follow all Idaho state laws," he said. "But it is legal in Idaho to buy certain things as an adult that maybe you can't buy in Washington."


A lot of people will say Zielinski is part of the problem, that he's contributing to Washington's ills and facilitating criminality.

The thing is, so what?

He's not required to card anyone for something without a serial number on it. He also likely knows that people illegally building guns for criminal purposes are much smaller than many might figure based on media reports.

And a lot of those customers are people who just want to get gun parts without the hassle of dealing with Washington state.

Plus, as Zielinski notes, no one on the Washington side of the border is bothered by the Idaho residents who cross state lines for marijuana--something legal in Washington but not in Idaho.

The difference here is that pot is still federally banned while gun parts aren't restricted by US law.

I'm not saying it should be banned federally, only that it is, so if people want to gripe about gun parts that are still legal federally--and yes, are still ultimately legal in Washington state--then they should stop selling pot that will illegally cross state lines.

Frankly, if I lived in Washington state, I suspect I'd be a customer of Zielinski's.


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