An updated viewpoint
I published The “Gun Show Loophole” in summer of 2019. This was right as my interest in firearms was being rekindled. With time, my opinion, viewpoint, and knowledge have all changed, and this update is to restate my position and offer a new solution.
The Original (Flawed) Solution
The original solution that I advocated for, that passed the House as HR-8, and that is currently pending in the Senate is to require private firearms sales to utilize an FFL to perform a background check.
This proposal is fundamentally flawed because there is no mechanism for enforcement.
Requiring private transactions to pass through an FFL will add another bureaucratic and monetary barrier to a supposed constitutional right, will result in mass noncompliance, will have zero effect on violent crime, and is fundamentally unenforceable.
Acknowledging Pandora’s Box
In America we have an astounding amount of firearms. Certainly more guns than people, but we don’t even know an exact number. This is for several reasons including records lost to time, home built guns (which are and always have been legal), and the historic lack of a national registry for regular firearms.
Firearms are fundamentally simple, mechanical devices. With nothing more than a trip to Home Depot I can assemble a functioning firearm. With a 3d printer I can build receivers (legally the regulated “firearm”) to build an AR-15, an AK-47, a Glock, and many many other guns. I myself have built multiple “Ghost Guns” just because I could.
Pandora’s Box has been opened and there’s no closing it.
How Is This Legal?
Something that guns right activists love to yell is “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”, but the thing is they have a point.
Firearms occupy a unique position of being the only consumer good with a Constitutional guarantee.
People argue about “the intent of the Framers” and Constitutional interpretation, but requiring individuals to ask permission of the Feds before being allowed to engage in intrastate commerce of a guaranteed good is Constitutionally sketchy in my opinion. (Not a lawyer.)
Prohibiting access to 3d printing files for guns is also legally questionable because Code is Speech, and if we learned anything during the height of online piracy it is that you Can’t Stop the Signal.
Criminals Gonna Crime
In the US, places like California have some of the most strict and serious gun laws including requiring all private purchases go through an FFL, but that has not stopped mass shooting or violent crime.
Even in Europe where gun laws are almost universally more strict then in the US it does not stop violent crime or even gun crimes from occurring.
Every day prohibited people are caught with guns they shouldn’t have that they built, stole, or bought illegally. None of that would change.
Surprisingly criminals don’t follow the law.
The Proposed Solution
The purported goal of ending the Gun Show Loophole is to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons. This is not possible.
There is no solution.
Even opening the NICS to allow anyone (not just FFLs) to initiate a background check would just result in unscrupulous private Sellers charging a premium for a Buyer to skip the background check or only forcing minorities to go through a background check.
Properly motivated, prohibited people will always be able to steal, find, or build a firearm. No amount of hurdles applied to the rest of the citizenry will stop this.