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The enemy is in retreat; let's not provide them ammunition.

Since the Ninth Circuit handed down the Peruta decision (4/1 issue), we have had a few more victories that should be causing profound concern for the gun control movement. Can we not give them any ammunition, however? We really need to get our side to avoid stupid and illegal actions at gun shows.

The Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. 2014) decision ruled that self-defense is a valid reason for wanting a concealed weapon permit in California, and that the Second Amendment requires either open carry be lawful, or concealed carry permits be available to law-abiding adults. The San Diego Sheriff's Department chose not to appeal, and as of this writing, it appears that a majority of the judges on the 9th Circuit did not request what is known as an en banc hearing, where a larger panel of judges rehears the case.

The California Attorney General has filed a request for an en banc hearing of Peruta, but it is not clear if the California Attorney General has the authority to file such a request as an intervener after the appellate court has handed down a decision. Both sides of the Peruta case had asked California Attorney General Harris to become involved before the Peruta decision, but Harris had declined to do so. (1)

In the meantime, the same three-judge panel that decided Peruta issued what is called a memorandum decision, Richards v. Prieto (9th Cir. 2014), directing the Yolo County Sheriff to rehear a lawsuit very similar to Peruta. (2) The net effect will be to require Yolo County (one of California's Central Valley counties) to issue concealed weapon permits to law-abiding adults who wish to defend themselves.

Finally, one more victory. Most of the states in the 9th Circuit were already either shall-issue (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington,) or constitutional carry (Alaska, Arizona). Only California and Hawaii were may-issue states. Hawaii permit issuance policies made California look pretty liberal! The same 9th Circuit panel that issued the Richards v. Prieto memorandum decision issued a similar memorandum decision in Baker v. Kealoha (9th Cir. 2014). This was a case where the Honolulu Chief of Police was refusing to issue concealed carry permits. (3)

So, we have the enemy in full retreat, right? What could possibly go wrong? Stupid, greedy people at gun shows, is what could go wrong. I just returned from a gun show in Reno, Nevada at which I saw actions that were criminal, stupid, and brazen. Had anyone from the news media bought a ticket, there would have been plenty of horrifying news stories.

I have written articles in the past demonstrating that the so-called "gun show loophole" does not exist; at most, there is a "private party sale loophole." Closing the "gun show loophole" would require a nationwide ban on private party sales, criminalizing vast numbers of perfectly innocent acts, with enormous potential for abuse. More importantly, banning private party sales does not appear to reduce murder rates, partly because violent criminals seldom obtain guns through legal channels. (There are no background checks when you burgle a home, for example.) (4)

Nonetheless, when you see actions at gun shows that play into the "gun shows are bazaars for criminals to buy guns" idea, knowing that gun shows are not a significant public safety problem doesn't help. What is going to be on your local news, or worse, national news, is going to do us a lot of harm.

So what did I see in Reno that has me shaking my finger like an irritated school teacher? First of all, I saw a lot that was being done right. Most gun dealers had signs reminding buyers that handguns could only be purchased by Nevada residents, and that you would need a Nevada ID. I overheard one dealer handing back a driver's license to a customer and saying, "I doubt that you will pass the background check, so there's no point in even trying." The license was in the vertical format that Nevada now uses for persons under 21 years of age, (5) and who therefore cannot legally buy a handgun from a federally licensed gun dealer.

I also saw several tables that indicated that these were private party sales, but even these still had signs indicating that you needed to be a Nevada resident, and you needed a Nevada ID. I will give these people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they had these signs out to make sure that residents of other states were not going to waste their time trying to make an illegal purchase.

Still, the number of guns on some of these tables make me suspect that BATF would not have too hard a time arguing before a federal judge that this person was "engaged in the business" and therefore required a Federal Firearms License.

What really concerned me was watching a completely cash, no paperwork, no ID handgun purchase at a table that again indicated that this was a private party sale. At one point, I heard the seller ask the buyer, "You're a Nevada resident, right?" The buyer said that yes he was a Nevada resident for a few weeks longer, but then he would be a California resident.

The seller did not ask to see a Nevada ID; it was all done on the honor system. Nor did either party make any effort to hide this rather blatant refusal to verify state of residence. I think this federal requirement is pretty absurd, probably unconstitutional, and unlikely to do any real good--but how is this going to look on the evening news? "Criminal gun bazaars!"

Finally, the ultimate "giving ammo to the other side" incident happened as I was walking down one of the aisles with a friend. Both of us immediately recognized the muzzle of an M3 grease gun sticking out of someone's backpack. (It is pretty distinctive.) I have long wanted one of these, if I could get one at a reasonable price. Fortunately, I live in Idaho, where machine guns are legal. But it was a bit of a surprise to see one in a backpack, obviously intended for sale.

My friend asked, "Is that one of the semiauto versions?" Valkyrie Arms made a semiauto version of the M3 grease gun a few years ago, although it used a 16.5-inch barrel--and this was clearly an M3 submachine gun barrel.

The guy with the backpack responded, "I'm pretty sure it's fullauto. My friend found it in the attic of his father's place after his father died. The bolt won't retract; I think it's rusted, so it's really just a parts collection."

At this point, cold chills ran down my spine. A full-auto weapon, even if it is not currently operational, is still a machine gun under federal law. Unless it has been cut or welded in a way that makes it not just inoperable, but not readily restorable to full auto fire, the receiver is still a machine gun, and it still needs to be registered as one.

To sell it you need to be a Class III dealer, and there is a transfer tax. It occurred to me after I had a chance to think about it, that if this M3 grease gun was brought back from World War II or Korea by a soldier, it was almost certainly "liberated" from Uncle Sam, which means not only unregistered but stolen. My response was, "Yeah, it's probably worth several thousand dollars and five to 10 years." Of course, that's five to 10 years in prison.

The next time I saw this guy, the M3 grease gun was upside in the backpack, so only the wire stock was exposed. That is not quite as distinctively an M3 grease gun, but the whole experience left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. Did this guy not realize that he was facing federal prison time for this? To bring a gun into the gun show you had to have it inspected and ziptied so that it could not chamber a round.

Did the person doing at the front door not realize what this gun was? Or was this guy working for BATF, hoping to find someone stupid enough to buy an unregistered machine gun from a stranger at a gun show? Either possibility makes me cringe, because it makes it too easy for the gun control movement to tar everyone at a gun show with the badge of criminal.

Victory is in sight; can we please not provide any ammunition for the other side?

(1) Emily Miller, "California attorney general tries to overturn gun carry ruling in 9th Circuit," Washington Times, February 27, 2014, ifornia-attorney-general-tries-overtum-gun-car/, last accessed March 24,2014.

(2) Richards v. Prieto, No. 11-16255 (9th Cir. 2014),, last accessed March 24,2014.

(3) Baker v. Kealoha, No. 12-16258 (9th Cir. 2014), content/up loads/2011/ll/Baker-v.-KeaIoha_Opinion-_-Vacated-and-Remanded.pdf, last accessed March 24,2014.

(4) Clayton E. Cramer, "Background Checks and Murder Rates," pers.cfm?abstract_id=2249317, last accessed March 24,2014.

(5) Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, "Driver License Designs," dldesign.htm, last accessed March 24, 2014.

Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho.
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Author:Cramer, Clayton E.
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:1U8NV
Date:May 1, 2014
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