Gun show loophole needs to be closed

(Portland) Commercial Review

While it’s somewhat reassuring to see a bipartisan group of senators cobble together new legislation that would strengthen background checks, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s all more gesture than substance.

Want to buy a gun without worrying about background checks at all?

Don’t go to your local gun store. Those folks follow the rules.

In fact, some of the most notable among them — think Don of “Don’s Guns” — will tell you that the real problem isn’t the rules, it’s the fact that some folks selling guns don’t have any rules at all.

So, where do you go if you want to buy a gun without worrying about background checks at all?

The mens’ room at a gun show.

That’s where a good chunk of these transactions take place.

They’re one-on-one. They’re paperless. They’re cash.

And they are a problem.

They’re also a problem for the hundreds of legitimate gun dealers across America who play by the rules — grumbling along the way as you might expect — only to find themselves competing with amateur, private sale deals that simultaneously undercut their business and make the country less safe.

On the surface, the “gun show loophole” ought to be the easiest one to close. But that hasn’t proved to be the case.

Instead, it seems to live on, despite any effort to bring about a sensible discussion of America’s gun economy.

Why? The only logical answer is the Second Amendment absolutism of the National Rifle Association.

The loophole doesn’t work for gun retailers, in fact it undercuts their legitimate business. The loophole — because it involves used firearms — doesn’t work for gun manufacturers.

It just works for folks who want to sell a gun off the grid and folks who want to get their hands on firearms without pesky questions about domestic violence or mental health or felony convictions.

Closing that loophole — along with better record-keeping on background checks and a link between gun ownership and a record of domestic violence — should have been done a long time ago.

Doing so protects gun dealers, giving them a level playing field, and also protects the rest of us.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].