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The Bloomberg Media Follies
By Tim Inwood
Recently in the Cincinnatus Standard I wrote about "teachable moments with the media."
Sadly the lesson must continue as we talk about how the media looks at issues with bias and distortion. One must conclude they are quite lazy, as they don't do their homework and seem quite willing to accept anything spoon-fed to them that fits their liberal mental template without critical thought. In the process they miss the facts, pass on the fabricated material, and thus do the public a great general disservice.
October was a hot month of media activity and there is much I can comment on, however I will focus on the publicity stunt pulled by Mayor Bloomberg of New York and his so-called undercover gun show stings, as this is an article unto itself. The issue of guns is
poorly handled by the press, and frequently they don't let the facts get in the way of their bias.
So it was on that cool October morning we awoke to lurid hidden camera video of so-called illegal gun sales taking place at gun shows in Nevada, Tennessee and Ohio, the bulk of the video coming from three locations in Ohio.
Those three locations in Ohio were Columbus, Dayton and Sharonville, a suburb of Cincinnati.
The videos can be viewed here, and suggest all sorts of illegal activity and outrage that such things go on. Other than one fool who jokes that he could probably not pass a background check either, there is really nothing to get worked up about. If he could not pass a background check, then he should not be there. However, he was one person at a show with 280 tables and over 225 dealers that weekend. With such numbers, the odds are you are going to have one goof ball there. Nevertheless, the point is Bloomberg hyped up something which is much ado about nothing.
Criminals by in large do not attend gun shows unless they are fools, and if you go to gun shows you know this. Gun shows are heavily attended by law enforcement officers, whether for security purposes or for their own needs. You see, law enforcement officers of all stripes are frequently gun enthusiasts as well. When you deal with the criminal element day in and day out and the only thing protecting you is your wits and your guns, then you want to be good with both. I know this as fact, as I often attend the shows, and I see many police officers I know whenever I attend a gun show within a sixty-mile radius of my home.
Criminals know the police attend the show and they also know the police are frequently familiar with their faces. Those pesky mug shot books seem to be something the officers are very familiar with. Hence those who have chosen a life of crime don't attend the gun shows, as it is illegal for a felon to even enter a building where a gun show is taking place. Funny how that did not make the cut in any of Bloomberg or the television news media's commentary on this subject, but there again many facts did not.
The press in general parroted the Bloomberg line with out looking into the facts or the law. Bloomberg claims he wants the gun show loophole closed, and in the same breath called what went on in the videos illegal sales. Let's address that. If the sales made at the gun show were illegal then the law covers it, and there is no loophole.
An ATF agent once told me that in a private party sale, if you ask three questions and get the correct answers you have obeyed the law. The first question is, if the purchaser is from the state where the sale is taking place. So the seller in this case would have to be shown proof of residency in Ohio, such as a drivers license as we saw requested on the tapes. Next question is, are you over the age of 18 (for a long gun sale) or 21 (for a handgun). The third question, "Is there any legal reason you can not own a gun?"
In one case in particular, I knew the seller videotaped by Bloomberg's investigators in Sharonville. In that situation, I know there was some chicanery afoot as they told him they were from Tennessee and asked if they could buy a gun. The seller (my friend) said yes. What you don't see on the tape is the full answer. He said "Yes, but I have to transfer the firearm to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder in Ohio who would have to ship it to a FFL holder in Tennessee where you can complete the transaction." With that in mind I can tell you selective editing of these tapes were definitely done. They can't be taken at face value with the selective editing.
Was I bothered by anything I saw on the tapes? Yes, but having talked to my friend I would really like to see the unedited material involved in all the cases shown before I could make a judgment call.
When the investigator on the tape said, "I probably could not pass a background check" that is cause for concern, but it is not a definitive statement. He said "probably," not can't, and since the passage of the Lautenberg amendment many Americans who would assume they would have no trouble buying a gun find out they often are prohibited. Go through a divorce and you might learn your ex-wife/husband put a restraining order on you and suddenly you are disqualified from owning a gun. If you were in the service and in a bar where a fight broke out and the Military Police rounded up everyone, including you, though you were not part of the fight, pity that but you are disqualified. Silly I know, but that is the law.
It truly galls me how a constitutionally-protected right (affirmed by the Heller decision in 2008) is denied for things that are not felonies. It also galls me how the press treats the issue. For example, if a state wants to restrict abortion, which is not in the Constitution but a right created by judicial fiat, the press gets bent out of shape about the possible denial of rights. However make that the Second Amendment, which is enumerated and spelled out in the Constitution, and they favor that any state or city can make their gun laws are restrictive as they like. In fact the bulk of the media will cheerlead that effort.
What Bloomberg is referring to as illegal is not. But to those unaware of the law there is confusion. What you largely saw are the collectors who come to shows, but are not licensed dealers in the business, who buy sell and trade to enhance their private collections. In that whole series of videos, he came up with one old man who they filmed at three shows in Ohio. Again, remember there are over 280 tables and 225 dealers at the smallest show, which was Sharonville, Ohio. One example of a unlicensed dealer at multiple shows... And if he is not selling that many but just buying to enhance his collection, that is perfectly legal. It may surprise Mayor Bloomberg to learn that private sales of firearms between private American citizens is perfectly legal and has been since prior to the American Revolution.
The sad fact is that only with the rise of efforts to control guns, has gun crime risen in this country. Prior to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, only Marxists who wanted to over throw our government and liberal loonies like Senator Thomas Dodd (Father of Senator Chris Dodd) wanted to ban or heavily regulate guns in the United States. Believe me, when you read up on the subject they have been talking gun bans for a long time in this country. There were liberals wringing their hands about all the souvenir handguns being brought back to the U.S. by returning GIs from World War II. For some odd reason liberals have never liked the idea of arms in private hands. I guess they don't trust the citizens.
From the Nation's founding up to 1968, the sale of firearms in this country was largely unregulated. If you run by your library you can likely find a copy of a Sears and Roebuck Catalogue from the early Twentieth century and you will be surprised to see they sold guns mail order. In fact that was the norm up until 1968. The ad you see here would have been in a gun magazine in 1968 right after sales were restricted to dealers, but prior to that anyone could have ordered a gun from the ad.
In those days you would have written down what you wanted, even order the ammo, send in the check and your mailman (as they were called in the pre-politically correct good old days) would have delivered it to the door. Guess what, there were very few crimes committed with such gun sales. You may ask why... Because my friends then, like today, criminals largely use stolen guns. Criminals often are not in the habit of paying for things, why would guns be any different?
What Mayor Bloomberg and the press ignore is the obvious and logical question. If Ohio is such an open arms bazaar where guns are so easily available and he assumes easy access to guns leads to crime, then why is it that gun crime in Ohio is so much less than in the liberal citadels of Washington D.C., Chicago and oh yes, New York City where gun ownership is largely illegal? I would love to hear the mayor answer that question.
Facts are sticky things. Statistics show where gun ownership is heaviest, the crime is lower. Criminals prefer unarmed prey and it has always been that way. So they flock to locations where the state or city has made it difficult or outright illegal to have a gun. The criminal's life is so much easier when he does not have to worry about the victim having a gun. This is why a citizen of Chicago sued the city and the U.S. Supreme Court will be looking at the validity of the Chicago handgun ban in the coming year.
The other question is not for Mayor Bloomberg but is to the Press. When will you pay attention to detail and facts? Take for example your passing on the Bloomberg lie that the BATFE says 30 percent of crime guns come from gun shows. That is total balderdash. In 2007 I wrote an article for Buckeye Firearms Association after Channel 5 in Cincinnati had tried to pull a fast one about guns shows. I addressed the facts, but reporter Eric Flack preferred to use the Brady Center lies and ignore government studies on the issue.
The number 30 percent is something Bloomberg pulled from thin air, just as the Obama administration did when they claimed 90 percent of crime guns in Mexico came from the U.S.A. The stats I used in 2007 are still valid today:
We sat for 30 minutes discussing the issue. He opened the interview by asking what I wanted to get across to the audience. I told him the major point I wanted the audience to understand was this was a non-issue. I said the Bureau of Justice had done two studies showing that gun shows were not how criminals got their firearms. The BJ study of 1991 found 0.6% of criminals got their guns from gun shows. A larger sample in 1997 said 0.7% got their guns at gun shows. 39% got them from a fence, stole the guns themselves or through some other illegal source. 40% got weapons from family or friends. He asked if there were other studies; I told him the National Institute of Justice did a study finding much the same result, coming in under 2%.
Mr. Bloomberg, like Sarah Brady, likes to inflate numbers. She is fond of saying the background check stops 50,000 sales a year. What she does not tell you is that most of those are contested and overturned.
Now my next question is to the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder. Mr. Holder, when are you going to prosecute Mayor Bloomberg for conspiracy to purchase firearms across state lines and strawman purchases? Both are felonies under Federal law and this is the second time the Mayor has pulled this stunt. He was warned last time, I think prosecution is warranted now.
Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA and Life Member of the OGCA, Republican Central Committeeman for Chester Township A, in Clinton County, Ohio, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.