One way scam artists make money is by peddling mislabeled goods. The label on the can says “Wild Alaskan Salmon,” but what’s really inside is codfish from a filthy breeding pen in China, plus some food coloring.
Selling mislabeled goods is illegal, but there’s nothing illegal about mislabeled laws. Michael Bloomberg knows that difference, and he is exploiting it.
Right now in the state of Washington, Bloomberg is pushing a November ballot measure that is promoted as being about background checks for private sales. But it is really a law to criminalize most gun owners, including those who never sell guns. If passed, the deceptive Bloomberg ban for Washington state is then going to become the national model, to gradually be imposed on gun owners nationwide.
Bloomberg plans to run a similar ballot measure in Oregon in 2015 and in a dozen or more states in 2016. One of them is Nevada, where the 2016 campaign is already in progress. Bloomberg’s Nevada operation calls itself “Nevadans for Background Checks” and is operated by Melissa Warren, the managing partner at the Faiss Foley Warren Public Relations & Government Affairs lobbying firm.
Bloomberg and his minions claim they are just promoting background checks on private sales. But as usual, they are lying.
One way to tell that Bloomberg is selling a mislabeled law is to read the actual proposal. In this case, it is 18 pages long. It would only take a couple of pages to require background checks on private sales of firearms, if that were all the law did.
Instead, the law is a comprehensive scheme to criminalize the normal use of firearms, thus turning most gun owners into criminals, from whom firearms can be confiscated.
When Washington voters cast their ballots this fall, here is what they will see:
“Initiative Measure No. 594 concerns background checks for firearm sales and transfers.
“This measure would apply the currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.
“Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ].”
What the voters won’t see is what I-594 really does.
I-594 expands the Washington state government database on handguns and handgun owners. Currently, it includes handguns bought at retail and their buyers. If I-594 is passed, it will include almost every handgun owner and borrower since, if you borrow your grandfather’s handgun for the weekend, you’ll be required to be listed in the database.
It’s not as if the database on handgun owners accomplishes any good. Currently, database entries are backlogged by nine months, and I-594 would aggravate the problem.
Interestingly, the Facebook page of Washington’s anti-gun lobby, the misnamed “Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility,” dishonestly calls concerns about the database on gun owners a “myth.”
I-594 is actually far more repressive than even the notoriously severe gun laws of California. There, private sales of firearms must be routed through firearm dealers, with the sales processed just as if the dealer were selling a firearm out of his own inventory—including all the same paperwork, with the dealer having to keep a permanent record on the buyer.
But California has exemptions for firearm loans. You can loan a firearm for up to 30 days to someone you personally know. You can loan a licensed hunter a long gun for the duration of the relevant hunting season. You can let a friend hold your gun in his hand while you’re teaching your friend about gun safety. Not so under I-594.
How much will it cost to loan a gun to someone under I-594? You would have to take the gun to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) for processing, and the FFL can charge essentially any fee he or she wants to charge. Typically, FFL fees for processing private transfers (e.g., interstate sales between private individuals) are about $35 to $50, because of the time involved in filling out the paperwork and the legal danger to the FFL if there are any errors in the paperwork.
Then, when your friend is ready to return the gun to you, you both have to go back to the FFL and pay for the processing of another transaction.
There are additional costs. The Bloomberg lobby insists that the transaction is exempt from sales tax. This is true. But it’s not exempt from the use tax. The use tax in Washington ranges from 7.1 percent to 9.5 percent, depending on the locality—in other words, about an additional $25 on a $300 used gun. And don’t plan on evading the tax—the Washington gun registry will have the record of your purchase.
With few exceptions, I-594 requires all firearm “transfers,” no matter how short, to be routed through retail gun stores. This includes allowing someone to hold your gun while under your continuous supervision—even letting a friend shoulder your unloaded new double-barrel to see how it feels.
Once you go to the gun store to seek approval to let a friend or family member borrow your gun for a couple of hours, you then have to wait up to 10 business days for the friend or family member to take custody of the gun. Add another potential 10-day wait when the gun is returned to you, which again must be routed through the gun store.
Unless your transfer is otherwise exempt (i.e., a gunsmith returning a repaired gun to a customer), the only exceptions to the 10-day waiting period are if local law enforcement approves the transaction sooner or if the person receiving the gun has a concealed carry permit.
Consequently, I-594 would radically undermine gun safety training. NRA-certified instructors often teach the first part of their classes at an office building, church, school or home. No ammunition is allowed in the room. During the first phase, students learn to handle guns safely—e.g., always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; keep your finger off the trigger; make sure the slide or bolt is locked open when handing a gun to someone else.
Students may practice dry firing (i.e., operating a firearm without live ammunition and with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction with a variety of different types of firearms to gain exposure to the way they handle and function). During the course of instruction, the instructors and students may “transfer” multiple firearms dozens of times, with each transfer lasting only a few minutes or less.
Under I-594, every one of these “transfers” would be a separate crime. The first transfer would be a gross misdemeanor, and every subsequent transfer would be a felony.
A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $5,000, or both. The second offense (that is, when the instructor hands his or her gun to a second student) is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or both. The felony conviction automatically prohibits a person from possessing a firearm for the rest of his or her life.
I-594 does have an exemption if “the firearm is kept at all times, at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located.”
Thus, it would be impossible to teach firearm safety anywhere except at “an established range.” Even then, the firearms must be “kept at all times” at the range, which may make it illegal to use any firearms other than those that are permanently stored at the range.