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NRA unlikely to strongly fight private sales ban unless pushed to do so

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Back in December, St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner predicted that a private sales ban is the most likely federal infringement on that which shall not be infringed--far easier to pass than banning so-called "assault weapons" (gun banner-speak for "regime change rifles") or "high capacity" magazines (gun banner-speak for "standard capacity magazines") will be.

If anything about that assessment has changed, the difference is that it looks still more accurate now. In that article, we noted that even many supposedly "pro-gun" Republicans have historically supported private sales bans even before the Sandy Hook atrocity created an anti-gun feeding frenzy that has terrified many of gun rights advocates' less stalwart "allies" in Congress.

Since then, NRA president David Keene has made clear that the NRA is quite willing to trade Americans' right to privately buy and sell firearms for . . . well, really for nothing but perhaps a bit of a delay before the gun prohibitionists renew their push to eviscerate every other aspect of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. The Hill, in an article titled "NRA chief 'generally supportive' of strong background checks" has video of Keene appearing on CBS This Morning, where he discussed the NRA's surrender terms:

At the gun shows, we suggested to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms some years ago, if they want everybody that makes an exchange there checked, all they have to do is provide a booth and do it. They said, "No, we weren't interested in that; we weren't going to fund it."

Keene was not finished. He elaborates:

But as a general proposition, the NRA has been very supportive of doing background checks on purchasers through the instant system, and secondly, of adding the potentially violently mentally ill to the database, which most states and the federal government have up to now not done. The President now says he'll do that, and that's good.

Not only is the NRA apparently willing to accept--and even advocate--an infringement that Mike Vanderboegh, of Sipsey Street Irregulars, frequently characterizes by pointing out that "not even King George the Third was so grasping," he also does not appear particularly concerned about the threat of a "blanket dragnet" for disarming the supposedly "mentally ill."

Keene also did not challenge the claim (repeated by his interviewer) that "40% of gun sales occur without a background check." This claim, made by nearly every forcible citizen disarmament advocate from President Obama himself on down, is looking more and more dubious by the minute.

John Fund, writing for the National Review, makes several observations:

The dubious statistic of guns that avoided background checks — which is actually 36 percent — comes from a small 251-person survey on gun sales two decades ago, very early in the Clinton administration. . . .

If that alone didn’t make the number invalid, the federal survey simply asked buyers if they thought they were buying from a licensed firearms dealer. While all Federal Firearm Licensees do background checks, only those perceived as being FFLs were counted. Yet, there is much evidence that survey respondents who went to the smallest FFLs, especially the “kitchen table” types, had no idea that the dealer was actually “licensed.”

The article quotes economist and gun policy researcher John Lott as suspecting that the actual percentage is likely in single digits. Even the generally reliably anti-gun Washington Post has little patience for the "40%" claim.

It is St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner's position that the statistics do not particularly matter. If 100% of gun sales were without background checks, that would be just fine (sounds a whole lot more like shall not be infringed, and is in keeping with National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea's oft-stated position that, "Anyone who can't be trusted with a gun cannot be trusted without a custodian").

Still, given the anti-gun extremists' insistence on trotting out the bogus "40%" figure, they apparently believe their argument would be weakened by the much lower figure they would be stuck with if they limited themselves to reality.

For the NRA president not to even question that figure (or the fact that a Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that fewer than 1% of "crime guns" come from gun shows) seems close to a dereliction of duty. The increasingly likely looking prospect of abject surrender on the issue would be still much worse than that.

With NRA membership surging, leadership (if that's not too kind a term) appears poised to beat a hasty retreat. It's time for them to grow a spine--and they had better hurry--and they will only do so if we demand it. Drop them a line.

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