published Saturday, April 16th, 2011

The gun show loophole

Jesse Ray Mathews, the man charged with killing Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin in a shootout after fleeing an armed robbery of a Brainerd pawnshop on April 2, potentially could have triggered far greater bloodshed had he carried the guitar case from his car into the pawnshop that day. The case contained an AR-15, a semiautomatic assault rifle like those used in combat by U.S. Marines and soldiers, and 300 rounds of ammunition.

It’s not hard to imagine the scenario that might have occurred had the shooter taken the assault rifle with him. Instead of firing a handgun through the store’s plate-glass window at the policemen who answered a silent alarm that day, the shooter’s weapon could have been the rapid-firing AR-15. With that powerful weapon and so much ammunition, several officers might have been killed or wounded.

Fortunately, the assault rifle and ammo were left behind. The grim irony, however, is that Mathews got the AR-15 through a perfectly legally transaction and without a background check, all because of this nation’s notorious gun show loophole.

Mathews simply went to the R.K. Shows gun show at the National Guard Armory in Chattanooga on March 27, just eight days before he allegedly shot Chapin in the face.

In Tennessee and most other states, private individuals of legal age may buy or sell guns and rifles at gun shows without the sort of instant background checks and record keeping required of federally licensed retail gun shop dealers. Private sellers don’t have to make record of the gun, the sale or the purchaser, and private purchasers don’t have to register the guns or fill out any records. All they have do is make a cash buy and walk out.

Mathews didn’t even have to pay cash for the rifle. According to a federal affidavit compiled in the investigation after the Chapin shooting, Mathews went to the gun show, found what he wanted, called his family to bring several of the 16 guns he had stolen earlier in a robbery of a Colorado pawnshop, and traded three of those stolen pistols for the AR-15.

Had he attempted such a transaction at a retail gun shop, he would have been subject to a background check. That check would have instantly revealed he was a parole violator with a felony record, and blocked the purchase. If he had used a clean straw purchaser to attempt the swap, a related check of the guns’ serial numbers would also have revealed that the three handguns were stolen, and it would have alerted federal agents to the attempted purchase and trade.

But because Congress and state legislatures have refused to close the gun show loophole by making sales subject to the retail dealer standards for background checks and record keeping, it was easy for a parole violator and felon wanted in Colorado on armed robbery charges to visit a gun show, make a deal without records and walk out with an assault rifle.

Studies of this outrageous loophole have long documented it as a main source of guns purchased by criminals. Advocates of sane gun-control laws in Congress and various state legislatures have tried repeatedly to require routine background-check standards for individuals who sell guns, especially at gun shows. But because the National Rifle Association has put the fear of defeat in politicians, its elected lackeys — mainly Republicans, but including some Democrats — have learned to avoid the subject. They instead prove their enslavement to NRA ideologues by promoting ever broader rights to carry guns in parks, churches, bars and on college campuses.

If voters were angry enough about gun-toting criminals and gang members to demand tighter gun show regulation, however, lawmakers would probably respond.

But because voters won’t coalesce in support of ending the gun show loophole, it survives and continues to arm criminals and spawn vast numbers of shootings and deaths every year in America. The result is seen regularly here in gang-related deaths, and sometimes in the deaths of innocent citizens and, potentially, our police officers — whose chiefs routinely oppose the gun show loophole.

But who cares? Certainly not our state representatives and senators.

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holdout said...

Being that he is a convicted felon it was not a, "perfectly legal" transaction. The assertion that most criminals get there guns from gun-shows is untrue. Most criminal steal them. If the laws already on the books were enforced Mathews would still be in prison in Colorado.

April 16, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
Pass_it_on said...

What the writer is deliberately omitting is the fact that Matthews obtained his arsenal by robbing a pawn shop in Colorado. the deliberate obfuscation of facts and its use to misdirect their readers to support their pathetic agenda totally belies their creditability.

The fact still remains that criminals will obtain weapons using any means possible, including by force.

Tit for tat ...

Why does the anti-gun crowd want more laws and restrictions instead of enforcing what we already have? We can't afford to enforce and also have the budget to fund the ones we already have on the books?

Why are anti-gunners also anti-death penalty?
That warped logic makes as much sense as the tripe written above.

April 16, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.
Leaf said...

Well, it would seem that the truth is that a felon can buy a gun from a gun show with no background check. Nobody disputes that fact. Google it if you like. The question is whether we should close that loophole or not. Personally, I'm in favor of the second amendment, but I'm not in favor of allowing felons to buy guns.

April 16, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

The fact that gun shows are completely unregulated makes no sense whatsoever, and regulating them would not be an infringement of our second amendment rights. What is the point of having laws to regulate legitimate gun dealers and pawn shops when any gun show can set up in any town or city in America and the vendors can sell any make or model of fire-arm, even assault weapons, to anyone who merely plunks down the cash? All of you who claim that we need to simply enforce the gun laws already on the books and not make new ones... enforcing the existing laws at gun shows would not be creating any new ones but rather enforcing those already in place for legal, legitimate sellers of guns. I'm not saying that guns shows should be shut down. By all means, all gun lovers should have the freedom to congregate and ogle and salivate over the cold hard steely objects of their affection. Just close the loophole that exists. Make gun shows sell within the same guidelines and regulations that every other gun shop must abide by.

April 16, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.
acerigger said...

Even for a convicted felon,"the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed",true or false?

April 17, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
chet123 said...

Felon can get guns without background check...Thanks the "NRA" for That...!

April 19, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
atowerman said...

I'm sorry that your so miss informed Rickaroo and chet123. You cannot buy firearms at any gun show in any town in America. Many states require the same background check at gun shows as they do at gun stores. As for blaming the NRA for felons being able to buy a firearm without a background check, there is simply no truth to that idea at all. You guys have a computer, use it, try google before you show your ingnorance by posting your opinion as fact. Your welcome to your opinion, just don't try to make others think that it a fact.

April 24, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.
jwalton said...

Folks, say what you want but keep it civil. Posts with profane or obscene language will be removed. The weekend editor

April 24, 2011 at 5:27 p.m.
silenius940 said...

I find the truth about this whole ordeal profane and obscene.....only in a world this sick and backwards could this happen, OH YEAH THAT'S RIGHT this is Tennessee, YEARS behind the rest of the world....

(Remember folks, be sure to vote for the next candidate that Fox News endorses, the one that your parents would have voted for, do not question anything, by all means DO NOT think for yourself or have any compassion for others, that is too similar to socialism. Okay enough internet browsing, all this is wasting time you could be shopping for things you don't need to get our economy back up.)

April 24, 2011 at 6:24 p.m.
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