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April 9, 2013 / Gregory Williams

Media Lies about Gun Sales and Background Checks

American news outlets, and even some overseas, claim in nearly every article about potential US gun control legislation that no background check is required to buy a gun online.

This 1911 was paid for online and still required a background check.

This 1911 was paid for online and still required a background check.

Here is the actual truth.

First, you can buy a gun online without a background check–that is, you can pay for it online.

Once paid for, the gun is shipped to a Federal Firearms License holder after the buyer locates one, obtains a copy of the holder’s license status and provides that to the online retailer via email, or fax. Usually after alot of back and fourth phone calls or in person visits with the FFL holder.

Any firearm retailer, manufacturer, or distributer is required to have one of several classifications of Federal Firearms Licenses so all new sale shipments are made between licensed dealers.

Federal laws, United States Post Office policies, and the policies of private shipping companies greatly restrict firearm shipments for non-FFL holders, or what I like to call private citizens.

In most cases it is against federal law for an FFL holder to ship to any address that is not verified as belonging to an FFL holder.

When the gun arrives, the purchaser must visit the FFL in person, submit to a background check, and pay an additional fee for this service. If the online retailer has a physical location where the gun can be picked up, this fee is often waived or non-existant.

That is the truth of online gun sales.

Private sales in many states, including my own, are legal, and this is the source of the so called “gun show loophole” and probably the source of the media’s fascination with the perception they are selling of rampant unchecked online sales.

For example, it is possible to locate a seller online, arrange a meeting, and conduct a private gun sale. However, it is already against federal law for someone to sell a gun to someone that is not legally allowed to posses a firearm, and it is the responsibility of the seller to be sure of this, and yes a web search on the subject will reveal prosecutions of sellers who violated this simple law.

Gun shows are a different story from state to state, but here in Washington the primary organization that puts on gun shows already requires verification of a person’s legal status before a firearm sale can be completed. A membership to the WAC is required, and only granted after the buyer proves they are legally allowed to posses a firearm in the form of proof of a background check. In addition they must pay a membership fee to the club. I personally am not aware of, nor can I find, any gun shows in Washington state that are not organized by WAC.

What this all means is that the media is deceiving any viewer or reader inclined to be caught up in the wave of fear they feed on. This is not surprising since gun violence earns ad revenue, and because the NRA, opposite groups like the Brady Campaign, and all the politicians involved either blatantly tell lies, or at least twist the truth to favor their own agenda.

The truth, as always, is up to us to find for ourselves.


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