(42 minute video)
I believe that all sides of an issue should be heard. This is a side which I don't support, but I understand the need of people to find an answer to a problem which we don't have an immediate means to resolve.
At 16:02 ... the NRA regarded " ... any compromise with the White House (regarding gun control) .. as treason".
A bit strong, and overstating the at-that-time debate. But not perhaps not entirely unreasonable considering that the proposed alternatives would disarm honest, reasonable, and legal gun-owners of their right to "keep and bear arms". The measures proposed and eventually enacted clearly violated the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But in 1994 the Clinton White House chose to arbitrarily enact a ten-year ban ("Assault Weapons Ban", or "AWB") on perfectly legal firearms .. and on "Hight Capacity" magazines. This act affected only legal, responsible gun owners, not the people (ie: criminals) who typically ignore laws. (That's why they call them "Criminals".)
These laws were reluctantly agreed to by many members of Congress, with the proviso that if, after a ten year "trial period", if the law did NOT result in a significant lessening of "firearms violence", they would be rendered null and void, and the law would be discontinued.
In 2004, federal statistics proved inevitably that the law had NO effect of "firearms violence", and congress made no objection to the "sunsetting" of this egregious law. Note that both parties had equal voice in this default decision, and so the law passed into history. The video conveniently declines to address this historical fact.
At 17: 07 "What the DEA is to drugs, the ATF is to guns."
Oh, that is SO kewl. This video equates drugs (which drives people crazy and eventually kills them) to guns (which, by implication, has the same effect of people).
The first and most obvious difference is that firearms ownership is protected by the Second Amendment; drug usage is not. Firearms ownership has a specific, legal purpose; usage of drugs has not.
"In the US today, there are more licensed gun stores than McDonald's Restaurants".
... and the point is .. what? That more people consider their ability to defend themselves against assault and tyranny than want to buy a Big Mac? By that measure, NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ought to LOVE gun stores, since he seems determined to keep his citizens safe from trans-fats.
Or perhaps the point is that guns are "bad", and that any outlet for guns (even, or especially LICENSED gun stores) are "bad", too.
Later in the video, it focuses on a specific dealer (a pawn shop) which had sold a preponderance of firearms which were later used in crimes. I can't help but agree that this strongly suggests that the dealer's policies are not consistent with an intent to prevent second-party purchases to provide guns to gang-bangers and drug dealers. But I wonder why the reporters are confronting that dealer, instead of the ATF. Isn't it the job of the ATF to monitor and follow-up on this kind of dealer practices?
And what has this to do with the purported focus of the "investigative news story" ... the NRA?
".. the data ... should have allowed firearms manufacturers to police themselves".
Incredibly, this entirely ignores the fact that firearms manufacturers are the most closely policed and restricted industry in the world.
Automobile manufacturers are not required to be accountable for the whimsy of their retail dealers to sell cars to bad drivers; although insurance agents may refuse to issue policies to the new owners, that in itself is not necessarily and impediment to purchasing a new Porsche. Yet firearms manufacturers are held to a higher standard .. even though deaths from auto accidents account for more deaths every year.
The fact is, a not-so-recent Supreme Court decision has supported the amazing concept that Manufacturers .. yes, even manufacturers of The Evil Gun ... are not responsible for the retail policies of their primary customers: Dealers who have already qualified for a Federal Fireams License (FFL), which is awarded and POLICED by the Federal Government.
When the Feds inject themselves into the market, they presumably accept responsibility for their own police powers. Whatever happened to the idea that if you (the government, in any form) assumes authority for regulating an industry, they must necessarily assume responsibility for any failures too adequately regulate it?
(Incidentally Congress in 2005 passed a bill (now a law) which shields firearms manufacturers from liability when dealers sell guns to 'the wrong people', or when 'the wrong people' use guns 'badly'. It's called the shield law, and it puts firearms manufacturers in the same category of automobile manufacturers. That is, if they make a defective product, they are liable; if they make a reliable product, and it is used illegally .. they are not liable.)
The video, by the way, suggests that the "ATF database" is able to track all firearms transactions by dealers. That's a half-truth. When a FFL dealer (even a pawn shop) sells a gun, they are required by federal law to check whether the sale is or is not to someone who is forbidden (by law) to purchase a firearm. Each individual transaction is processed through the NICS (National Instant Crime System). Withing a few days, that data is deleted; purchasing a firearm does NOT irrevocably enter every purchaser in 'the system'.
However, the ATF audits FFL holder records regularly. Contrary to what is stated in the video, they are NOT limited to a single visit each year. ATF agents may .. and do .. visit as frequently as they deem needed in the case of a 'questionable' dealer. There are literally thousands of apocryphal reports of ATF agents 'auditing' FFL establishments so frequently that they interfere in the dealer's ability to do business, since all records are reviewed, all firearms are examined, firearm serial numbers confirmed individually and recorded, and if there is a firearms which is missing and not recorded on the appropriate form (and/or the form is not found in the dealer files) the dealer is subject to immediate closure. All firearms are confiscated and may be held for an unlimited time until the situation is resolved. This is what happened to the West Coast dealer who was the original owner of the AR15 found in the possession of the DC Snipers .. who stole the gun from the shop (without the FFL owner's awareness until he was audited based on a serial number trace from the manufacturer to the dealer).
It's an imperfect system, that's true; but the responsibility rests with the ATF, because they decided that the were the best people to track firearms transfers. If they screw it up .. it's their responsibility for having provided inadequate oversight.
Around 25:00 ...
... the video addresses the issue of firearms registration in Canada. The NRA has taken the stance that the Canadian Solution is not appropriate, nor desirable in America. The video addresses "...the demonetization of gun-control countries like Canada ..".
In fact, Canada's attempt to register, confiscate, and track firearms has proven to be a fiscally unsupportable effort. Originally budgeted at an initial and annual cost of 2 millions of (Canadian) dollars, it immediately ballooned into a tens-of-millions-of-dollars-a-year governmental boondoggle. Initiated in 1993, it was discontinued in 2013 (April 6, in point of fact) because (a) it was serving no identifiable purpose other than pissing of it's citizens, and (b) it cost more to supervise and regulate than was found to be beneficial. Further, the bill which concluded the worthless registry " ... mandated the destruction of the non-restricted records of the registry as soon as feasible."
This unfortunate experience had the unexpected side-effect of demonstrating that the NRA, in resisting registration of firearms, has effectively saved the United States Government budget from experiencing a millions-a-year of unproductive expense.
Hmmm .. considering that firearms are exponentially more prevalent in America than in Canada, it wouldn't be unreasonable to consider that a "billions of dollars a year" boondoggle in America. Wayne La Pierre might be forgiven for offering an unsolicited "You're Welcome" to Barack Obama and his entire administration.
(I'm ignoring the cheap shots at Larry Pratt, head of Gun Owners of America.)
At about 29:00 ...
.. the video takes a lick at their (and ATF's) "number one" bad dealer .. Valley Guns. They cite (and display, briefly) a report which lists his Maryland shop with "13 violations" and (at 29:19) 483 "Gun Crime Traces". The next three on the list are reported respectively with 245, 256, and 248 "Gun Crime Traces. Valley Guns with 13 "violations" is compared to those next three who have (respectively) 12, 11, and 11 "violations". (The nature of those violations is not explained.)
Let's take a minute to explore the definition of "Gun Crime Traces".
In reality, guns may be traced (by serial number) by many sources, including ATF and state, local and federal law-enforcement officers. Every trace is counted regardless of the reason for the trace. Traces may be entered for guns which have been found at the scene of a crime, or because they were found in the possession of someone who has had any kind of contact with a LEO, or because they were reported stolen or missing by the owner .. or because an ATF officer is looking at a list of firearms in the required records maintained by every FFL. It does NOT necessarily indicate the number of guns where were found at the scene of a crime by LEO officers, or in the possession of charged criminals.
Once a FFL owner's business has been targeted by the ATF, it is not at all unusual for the agents to enter a 'trace' on EVERY firearm which that dealer has sold ... for as far back as that agent cares to search. What they are looking for is to determine if the firearms which have been sold from that business have been associated with a crime. Whether the search fails to return a positive result from that search is not counted any differently from the searches which reveal that a gun WAS involved in a crime. The ATF searches, and the LEO searches, only record that the search was made.
This implies that the fact of a "Gun Crime Trace" has been initiated does not necessarily mean that it has determined that firearms sold by that business have ended up in the hands of criminals. It's a misleading, mindless statistic which may be skewed by the the efforts of ATF and other agents. It may or may not prove that the dealer is selling guns to criminals.
To be more clear: a high "Gun Crime Trace" statistic may actually indicate that guns ARE being used in crimes; but that information is not necessarily defined by the reported statistic; it only implies it if the trace requests are not inflated by artificial means.
(No, I'm not performing as an apologist for dishonest dealers; I'm merely saying that the statistics quoted in the video are not necessarily as condemnatory as the video seems to suggest. Like all statistics, until you understand the source and meaning of the numbers, it's too easy to leap to the conclusions which the makers of this video, for example, SEEM to suggest.)
"At what point does a dealer's responsibility end?"
That's a good question. Mr. Valley Guns may be an entirely unscrupulous person who couldn't care less if he is selling to criminals, or he may be a bad book-keeper or a bad businessman, or he could be an idiot. The fact is, if he is recording transactions (even if erroneous information, such as the "wrong county where the buyer resides"), that may suggest that he is making an effort (if a half-hearted effort) to comply with the law.
Which is not to say that he shouldn't seek another line of work, because he seems to be unsuited to one where his product is the most highly monitored in the world .. including pharmacies! And that takes us RIGHT back to the question: If this guy is selling guns to crooks, and the ATF is charged with preventing illegal firearms transactions, then who is guarding the guardians?
The answer to that question: ultimately, the dealer was arrested, charged and convicted, so it appears that the ATF eventually got around to doing their job. Good for them! We don't want unscrupulous or inept firearms dealers any more than CBS does.
So ... that proves that the system works? And if so, what's the point of mentioning this in the video? One might be forgiven for being confused, since the logical assumption of the entire production was to show how the system did NOT work.
I only wish that CBS had gone after the guy who sold me a 1963 Corvair Spyder (you know, "Unsafe at Any Speed"?) That's someone who was truly evil!
Anytime I see an interview with someone discussing firearms, and someone mentions one or more of the following phrases/words:
- Why do you need ...
- Common Sense
- Reasonable Restrictions
- Killing Machine
- Assault Weapon
- If it only saves one life ...
- No reason to have (x#) bullets ..
- High Capacity Magazines
- Ten (6, 7, 8 .. pick a number at random) Round Limit
- You're less safe with a firearm in your home ...
- You're 47 times more likely to be killed...
- Let's "Do The Right Thing" ...
The only possible response would be something on the order of:
- Why do you need a bible?
- Why do you need a koran?
- Why do you need a newspaper?
- Why would you object to a search of your home, if have nothing to hide?
- Why would you object to a video camera mounted in your home?
- Why not allow troops to be quartered in your home?
- Why would you object to the government monitoring your email?
- What's wrong with NSA recording your phone conversations?
- Why do you need a "speedy trial", especially if you know you're guilty?
- Should you HAVE to answer questions at your trial?
- What's wrong with a policeman saying "Move Along" at a protest?
- Do you REALLY believe that everyone is endowed with certain inalienable rights?
- Cars kill people; can you justify driving a dangerous weapon?
- Why shouldn't the Army combat-assault your home?
- Why shouldn't you be arrested for saying something in public that is offensive to me?
- Don't you have a right to a driver's license? Why are you tested before it is given to you?
- Does congress give me the right to own a gun?
It's as if they 'get' all their rights, except the one which the Founding Fathers considered so important that it was the second one in the Bill of Rights.
This blind spot is enough to make a grown man weep.