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June 25, 2007

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Dr. Wintermute Takes on Gun Shows

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence just sent me a summary of a study done by Dr. Garen J. Wintermute, who is Director of the University of California (Davis campus) Violence Prevention Research Program. Dr. Wintermute has visited 28 gun shows in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

The report is lengthy, highly detailed, and written in the brain-coagulating academic prose that nearly got me flunked out of college. I don’t have the space to discuss it in detail, so I’ll have to limit myself to comments on just a few of his points.

The study,” according to the Coalition summary, “demonstrates that American gun shows continue to be a venue for illegal activity, including straw purchases and unlicensed sales to prohibited individuals.

My question is, how did the Doctor come by this information? Did he hear people announce that they were prohibited from buying a gun? Or that they were buying a gun for someone else?

“Hey, good buddy, I’m a fugitive felon, and I’d like to know how much you want for that Smith over there.” Or: “My 13-year-old has bullying issues at school. What’s the price on the Mac-10?”

There is little police presence at gun shows.

Probably true. There is a shortage of uniform officers on duty on the floor, but they are almost always present at the door. And there are loads of cops in civilian clothes inside, buying throwaway guns.

The BATFE estimates that there are 5,000 gun shows annually in the United States.

Yes, and if Doctor Wintemute had visited a few more than he did, he would have seen that they ranged from roadside gatherings of a couple dozen people selling gun-related junk to affairs hosting thousands of people at which the cheapest gun would require a second mortgage to buy.

The actual report shows photos of SKS rifles, and notes that they are equipped with bayonets. But when was the last time a civilian was bayoneted to death? Probably more people are killed by step-on dogs falling from windows than are stabbed by SKS bayonets.

The study is largely naïve, silly, and academic. But I repeat myself.

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Comments

SilverArrow

As noted Gun Shows vary from High End auctions to the kind our mainstream media wants us to picture and detest. Some are more scrutinized than others depending on state and local laws.
Dave; your comment "And there are loads of cops in civilian clothes inside, buying throwaway guns." is indefensible! First even gun show purchasers must complete a 'Form 4' which links them to that weapon. Second, and more importantly, the vast majority of Law Enforcement officers in this country are professionals to whom such practice is abhorrent. Such a comment only serves to further alienate those in law enforcement (growing in number by the way) who are not 'gun people' to start with.
The future of these shows essentially depends on those of us who are 'gun people' working to change the public perception of them as places where the criminals come to buy their guns. Even if laws to control the gun shows are not enacted locally adverse publicity and poor public perception will result in owners of the venues not allowing the shows any more.
How to clean up the perception? Perhaps there should be ID checks at the entrances, a decent PR effort and when a prohibited purchase is attempted an arrest should be made (on the spot) and publicized.

Tina

Thanks Silver Arrow. My thoughts exactly on the "throwaway guns".

Mr. Petzal, shall I assume you MEANT to say "affordable backup weapons or defense weapons for family members"?

If not, I agree with inexcusable.

Peter C

The gun shows that I've attended in AZ in recent years have been dominated by FFL dealers, with almost no modern guns being available from non-dealers. It's quite different from the gun shows of years ago, which were mostly club events, with only a few FFL dealers in attendance. Several years ago, I went to a once-important show in CA, which had degenerated into a shadow of its former self. There was a large and oppressive presence of uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement, and BATF agents, just waiting to catch a violation.

Dan Mc

It makes no sense to me that there are so many anti-law enforcement sentiments in these pages. Don't all of us shooters/hunters/gun owners want gun laws to be aggressively enforced and prosecuted? It is certainly a small minority of people who misuse guns make us "gun nuts" the target of such scorn.

As for the "throwaway gun" comment, I think most cops would (jokingly) refer to that as a "drop gun," and, yes, it is a practice abhorred by the vast majority of law enforcement officers. But if that's what you meant, Dave, you're as ignorant as that idiot "Doctor" you wrote about.

"The study is largely naïve, silly, and academic."

I find it scary when words like academic get used as pejoratives. Every group that has sought to diminish the influence of the educated has done some really horrible things.

Can the pro-gun crowd at least admit there's a problem with guns getting into the wrong hands? Are gun shows really that vital to legal gun ownership? I find it bizarre that things that shouldn't be defended. When one party takes an intractible position, eventually they get simply bypassed. If the pro-gun crowd isn't seen as part of the solution, when the anti-gun legislation finally does get passed the pro-gunners won't have any say. It will be total bans.

Why can't there be some simple things done, like raising the minumum age to own a gun, especially handguns as handguns are the biggest problem with respect to gun crime.

Dr. Ralph

Yeah come on Dave, how silly can you be? Throwaway guns... everyone knows they're called throw down guns. As in throw it down next to the dead perp. Better watch out, you're not anonymous like us.

PbHead

Great timing Dave, I went to a gun show just yesterday. I enjoyed myself and bought some reloading components. I also enjoyed fondling the type of guns you write about but I am unable to purchase. Police were at the door and roaming the floor. Here in Illinois we can not touch a gun on a table without showing our state issued firearms owner identification card. What was hard for my old ears to live with though was the stream of announcements on the public address system every 30 minutes explaining how all local, state and federal laws were to be followed. After three hours of that my ears were ringing worse than the time I shot fifteen 12 gauge slugs with inferior ear protection.

Dr. Ralph

Police presence at gun shows? Why do they need police... everyone has a gun. That's the kind of statement that lets you know this man doesn't have a clue. Maybe the police are supposed to watch every transaction to make sure the FBI background check is done. Come on it's hard enough to keep a Federal Firearms License without breaking the law, much less if you are a criminal. This is just that pesky anaconda tightening up another notch.

Michael

While I am sure the gun haters will use the study, you only have to read the first 2 pages to know the "slant" of the author of the "study". If his bias hung out any further, I would want to use a bayonet to poke it!

Dave in St Pete

"The study is largely naïve, silly, and academic."

I find it scary when words like academic get used as pejoratives. Every group that has sought to diminish the influence of the educated has done some really horrible things.

Can the pro-CAR crowd at least admit there's a problem with CARs getting into the wrong hands? Are CAR shows really that vital to legal CAR ownership? I find it bizarre that things that shouldn't be defended. When one party takes an intractible position, eventually they get simply bypassed. If the pro-CAR crowd isn't seen as part of the solution, when the anti-CAR legislation finally does get passed the pro-CAR CROWD won't have any say. It will be total bans.

Why can't there be some simple things done, like raising the minumum age to own a CAR, especially SPORTS CARS as SPORTS CARS are the biggest problem with respect to car crime.

Brian

Seems to me that Mr. Petzal was simply being a bit sarcastic, when commenting about the "throwaway" guns.

joel

anything out of uc davis can't be taken serious.

joel

anything out of uc davis can't be taken serious.

HGHunter

I do believe that Dave was being sarcastic on the "throw away" gun comment. However that is even how some of the fools like Wintermute perceive us; an evil, however necessary, that need to enforce the laws that he feels necessary, but leave his dope smoking, acid dropping, coke snorting types alone. I can just hear Dr. "Chech" saying "hey man, it's just a joint. Anyway back to the topic, this little tid-bit annoyed me the most "Can the pro-gun crowd at least admit there's a problem with guns getting into the wrong hands?" Oh yeah, some guns do get in the wrong hands, and the hands that they get into are usually the ones breaking down front doors, back doors, and into windows of law abiding citizens and stealing their guns due to the liberal court system that is constantly releasing these assholes because "hey man, it's just a joint". I as a police officer go to gun shows, often in plain clothes and have never seen a straw purchase occurring and anytime I do purchase a firearm at one, which is rare due to the prices, I have always had to do the same paperwork and background check as I would in a store. Wintermute’s “study” is just another uninformed fool trying out an attack on the Second Amendment to further not the educational aptitude of higher learning, but to further his own political agenda in its guise.

Dr. Ralph

I attend quite a few gun shows and the crowds are usually full of military and police personnel, and HG hit it on the nose. If the court system would do it's job violent offenders wouldn't be a problem. Instead the libs feel sorrier for the criminals than the victims and we become prisoners in our homes while crackheads roam the street. Throw one down for me...

Jim Kiser

In Va. since the VT shootings the out cry by the anti self defense crowd is that something must be done about the "unlicensed dealers"(private sellers) that are at shows. Several newspapers such as the Washington *%^$(Post) and a paper in the Staunton Va. area will not accept ads from private owners looking to sell a firearm unless they produce a FFL. Of course the VT killer followed all the gun laws that are on the books when purchasing his weapons but the goverment and the college didn't follow the rules when the killer was ordered into treatment.

Eric

"The study is largely naïve, silly, and academic. But I repeat myself."
Dave-please do not tie all of academia with being naive and and silly. There are certain groups within academia that are "naive and silly." I can also say the same thing about the Republican party (especially George "W" Jr.), the Democratic party (Schumer, et al.) and many other organizations.
Although I am not currently working for any academic institution, there are many gun owning professors and staff in colleges and universities that never receive any press. Many of them fight the gun banners day in, day out, trying to preserve academic integrity of the institutions they are a part of.
Eric W.
Reed City, MI

Mike Diehl

Well, in AZ *most* of the sellers *with tables* at Gun Shows are FFLs, but I have seen walk in's making sales. And I have seen one regular seller with a table at Crossroads of the West with a sign that says "Private Sale - No Background Check." I don't think such is typical however. Most of the tables seem to be FFLs who are doing background checks by internet on the spot.

"Can the pro-gun crowd at least admit there's a problem with guns getting into the wrong hands?"

We could admit that if the anti-gun types would admit that there is a much bigger problem with automobiles getting into he wrong hands. Face it, you are far, far, far more likely to be run over by a person driving on a suspended license than you are to be shot by a person who is otherwise disqualified from owning firearms.

"Are gun shows really that vital to legal gun ownership?"

Who are you to tell people where, when & how they can congregate? Are there any other rights you want to suspend?

"When one party takes an intractible position, eventually they get simply bypassed."

What is that a threat? Do it our way or else? You sound like a Bush Admin appointee.

"If the pro-gun crowd isn't seen as part of the solution, when the anti-gun legislation finally does get passed the pro-gunners won't have any say. It will be total bans."

Dream on. There is a good reason why the NRA is a political colossus. Even some fairly progressive, dare I even say LIBERAL people are NRA members. If your EUtopia comes into being I would not hold my breath waiting for all the firearms owners to turn in their weapons. Which brings me to the point. If you can't stand the thought of someone else owning a firearm, why not move some place where there ownership is highly restricted? You don't even have to leave the US. Just go to California.

"Why can't there be some simple things done, like raising the minumum age to own a gun,"

A more rational sense of priorities would have us attempt to lower the maximum age at which one is allowed to own a car.

"especially handguns as handguns are the biggest problem with respect to gun crime."

The biggest problem with gun crime is that there are criminals. As a society we are quite a bit too generous to habitual offenders.

Jim

You basically have two choices. Either you lock up the guns and other potentially dangerous objects, or you lock up the criminals and the nut cases. I vote for the latter. And would someone please tell me why we keep letting child molesters, robbers, rapists and murderers out of prison? I say that once someone has shown him- or herself to be contemptuous of human life, that person should be locked up forever and ever. Society is worse off, not better off, when predators are "re-released" back into our midst.

John

Dave, stop it. "throw away guns?" I read that and sprayed soda out my nose. That was funny.

William Giordano

Dave, When you write things [ throwaway guns ] remember Zumbo and what a phrase can do to a career.

"You basically have two choices. Either you lock up the guns and other potentially dangerous objects, or you lock up the criminals and the nut cases. I vote for the latter. And would someone please tell me why we keep letting child molesters, robbers, rapists and murderers out of prison?"

First, we lock up more people in the US than anywhere else and what good is it doing? We still have a crime rate higher than the rest of the industrialized world. And only two choices? Why not consider better social programs, things to keep people from committing crimes in the first place. It is a lot cheaper than building more prisons and better for us all.

People that shouldn't get released from prison because we are filling our prisons with people who are simply drug addicted.

"Who are you to tell people where, when & how they can congregate?"

If you want to rent the biggest hall available and all stand around chewing the fat while drinking sodas, I couldn't care less. It is the act of selling guns in that setting that's the problem.

"If you can't stand the thought of someone else owning a firearm, why not move some place where there ownership is highly restricted?"

These online conversations go nowhere when people insist on putting words into the mouths of others. Where have I said that I favor bans or anything of the sort? I would like to find ways to cut gun crime as if that can be done, then a big reason people want to ban guns goes away.

I don't know why people throw the car thing in here. That is an issue that may need attention, but they are apples and oranges, changing one does not affect the other in any way nor does it deflect the attention of those who really do want to ban guns.

Mike Diehl

"We still have a crime rate higher than the rest of the ndustrialized world."

NOt saying you're lying but I do not agree that you are correct. I'd like to see some corroborating evidence. From recent examinations (I've posted these in past threads) one is far more likely to be a victim of "contact crime" (a crime in which the perp confronts or, worse, assaults a victim) ANYWHERE in the EU than in NYC or Los Angeles. In the US, one is least likely to be a victim of a contact crime in the areas with lax gun laws. Not saying that guns necessarily prevent crime, but from a statistical analysis there is more merit to claiming that they reduce crime than that they contribute to it.

"Why not consider better social programs, things to keep people from committing crimes in the first place."

Indeed, why not? And yet we don't. So why penalize firearms owners for their hobby when they're not the ones in general committing crimes nor are they the ones necessarily preventing good social responses. Having good prevention and treatment programs is a great idea. I'd add that requiring every public school student to take a firearms training course by the 8th grade would also be an excellent program.

"It is a lot cheaper than building more prisons and better for us all."

To a degree. I'm not keen on suffering repeat offenders however. Anyone, repeat anyone can make a mistake. But by the time some 25 year old is in the courtroom with their umpteenth B&E charge I can't see that there is a human being worth remdiation. Get me in a really fould mood and I'd even advocate putting them out of society's misery. Ever been robbed? It sucks.

"People that shouldn't get released from prison because we are filling our prisons with people who are simply drug addicted."

Depending on the drug perhaps they should not be released. But I take your point.

"If you want to rent the biggest hall available and all stand around chewing the fat while drinking sodas, I couldn't care less. It is the act of selling guns in that setting that's the problem."

I do not agree that it is a problem. People sell cars in big halls while they chew gum & drink sodas and coffee. Cars kill and maim more people than firearms. Let's ban auto-conventions then, shall we?

"I would like to find ways to cut gun crime as if that can be done, then a big reason people want to ban guns goes away."

I disagree. People who want to ban guns, want to do so because of several reasons. 1) They're misinformed about gun owners. 2) They've been fed alot of hype to make gun ownership seem like a threat, even though they face much greater threats with casual indifference every time they drive. 3) They're not interested in crime solutions that might work. You know, the ones that cost money. Like good drug prevention and treatment programs. So they fix on firearms control because they think it is some sort of miracle cure.

"I don't know why people throw the car thing in here."

I throw it in to show how people are very comfortable with the day to day abuse of a dangerous item even though that item is far more lethal, given mortality and injury rates per capita, than firearms.

Given that, the focus on firearms seems unsupportable both in terms of the effort to find solutions for society's ills, and it should be a low priority (as compared with other problems) on anyone's "to do list."

"That is an issue that may need attention, but they are apples and oranges, changing one does not affect the other in any way nor does it deflect the attention of those who really do want to ban guns."

For those who do not find the argument convincing it is a symptom that they are not rational in the first place. Any sane, rational person would note that if one wanted to cut down on the number of unnecessary, even illegal deaths, vehicular injury is a far greater problem. If in response to all that someone says "So what, let's ban firearms" my response is, well, unprintable. I see no need to compromise with idiots who place fear and ignorance ahead of rational analysis.

I don't think anyone is ever going to achieve a firearms ban, although they won't stop trying. That is why I joined the NRA. I'm no fan of Wayne LaP, and I think the general tenor of the debate coming from NRA can be nasty. But in the end, given a choice between doing nothing or letting them spend my money to stonewall the anti-s, I choose the latter. And I've been a registered Dem all my life. I'm pro-individual-choice across the board. Guns. Reproduction. Marriage. Etc.

And if firearms *are* ever banned, I'm not turning mine in. Period.

Dave in St Pete

" I would like to find ways to cut gun crime as if that can be done, then a big reason people want to ban guns goes away."

Well when you find a gun that has committed a crime let me know.

Until then let's deal with the CRIMINALS!

And even if you could magically make all guns disappear crime would still happen (see the UK). All you will have done is make me and mine even more vulnerable to thugs.

"How?" you ask. "The thugs will not have guns so you will be safe", you say.

Wrong! The thugs will travel in packs, and or use knives, clubs etc. and I will have no way to defend myself.

Reality really sucks for gun grabbers.




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