It takes a special kind of chutzpah to proclaim to be arbiters of truth while constantly publishing false information. Media Matters bills itself as a “watchdog” of the conservative media when they are really nothing more than a mouthpiece for Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee.
This is never more evident than in Media Matters ongoing attempts to lie about guns and gun laws. The following is the headline for Matt Gertz’s blog post:
How Big Is The Internet Gun Sales Loophole Conservative Media Claim Doesn’t Exist?
A new study finds that in June and July, a single website allowed sellers of more than 15,000 firearms in ten states to utilize the loophole in federal law allowing people to buy guns on the Internet without passing a criminal background check — a loophole that conservative media claim doesn’t exist.
Background checks — designed to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill and convicted felons, who are banned by law from owning firearms — are mandatory at retail stores under federal law. Between 1994 and 2009, nearly 1.8 million applications for firearms transfers were denied to prevent prohibited purchasers from buying guns. But private sellers who sell guns over the Internet or at gun shows are not required to perform such checks. In April, federal legislation aimed at requiring a background check on nearly every gun sale, termed the Manchin-Toomey amendment, failed to overcome a Senate filibuster, even though an overwhelming majority of Americans support such a law.
Prior investigations have found that this loophole for private sales is frequently exploited by gun traffickers and used to supply firearms to criminals, and that many Internet sellers are willing to complete sales even after being informed that would-be buyers couldn’t pass a criminal background check. Nonetheless, conservative media have insisted that no such Internet or private sales loophole exists.
There are two big lies associated with what Gertz wrote.
1. There is no internet or gun show loophole. That is a fact. Gertz and his ilk say, “You see! These guns are being sold and they say a loophole does not exist!” The problem is, they either do not know what loophole means or they know and are being purposely dishonest. Based on their reputation and that of Media Matters serial lying founder David Brock, we’ll go with the latter.
Here is the definition of a loophole:
an ambiguity, omission, etc., as in a law, by which one can avoid a penalty or responsibility
You see, a loophole allows for somebody to do something legal by finding some way around a certain. For example, in 2005, Walmart wanted to get around a local Maryland zoning law that limited retail store building sizes to 75,000 square feet. Walmart was going to build a 74,998 square foot facility and right next to it (with a separate entrance, cash registers, etc) a 30,000 square foot garden facility. Walmart decided to not go through with plan because of public pressure, but it would have been perfectly legal for them to do so.
That is a true loophole.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Gertz was convicted of armed robbery 5 years ago. Under federal (and state) law, that conviction would prohibit him from purchasing, owning, or even possessing a firearm. Let’s say Matt was looking through the local newspaper and saw a Glock .17 for sale in an ad. He calls the person up who invites him over and sells Gertz the gun. Because it is a private sale, there is no background check and Gertz drives off with his gun.
He has also just broken one or more state and federal laws that could send him to prison for up to 10 years for the illegal possession of a firearm.
You see, the lack of a background check did not make Gertz’s purchase any less legal.
This is why it is false for people like Gertz to claim there is a loophole. There is none. Private sales have never required a background check and if Gertz and others like him are so worried about gun traffickers engaging in illegal sales of firearms, then wouldn’t it be better to direct time and resources at stopping traffickers than worry about Grandpa Joe and Grandpa Dave trading hunting rifles with each other?
2. These “internet sales” are not being made on the internet. The first point of contact is being made on the Internet. The sale is either being handled in person or people are illegally shipping guns to each other. Gertz would have us believe people are buying guns on the Internet and having them shipped to their house via UPS or Fedex without consequence.
This is not true. If the purchaser has the gun shipped to him and he does not hold a federal firearms license, then he would be guilty of violating federal law. The seller does not have to be licensed to ship the gun, but they must ship it to an FFL.
If Gertz and other liberals like him want to have a vigorous debate about whether or not requiring background checks on private sales will help fight crime, then have that debate. But they should do it honestly. Consistently raising the fear-mongering “loophole” that does not exist, reveals their “concern” is entirely about politics and not “people’s lives.”