In what seemed like an arbitrary and capricious attack on U.S.
commerce, the FBI, without warning, closed gun shows and the firearms
business in general on Sunday, by turning off its national instant
background check system (NICS) for the day.
Touted as a crime-fighting tool by anti-gun-rights supporters,
the NICS background check more closely resembled socialist control
of a segment of the economy, at least for the day. Dealers at
the sprawling Crossroads gun show in Phoenix reported being severely
hurt by the FBI's move, which the Bureau characterized as routine
Record-breaking crowds at the show, fearing more severe repression
of gun-buying rights threatened by the Clinton administration,
found that their only option for obtaining firearms was through
private transactions, since dealers were totally shut down. The
president, along with many members of Congress, are seeking total
control over these private sales as well, calling such legitimate
and legal activity "a loophole."
It's important to note that Brady Part 2, which authorizes NICS,
only requires its use if it is up and running (18 USC 922 (t)(5)).
But dealers, terrified of reprisals by BATF, are now afraid to
sell merchandise to American citizens without a prior federal
blessing. This gives the government lock-step control over a portion
of the American economy and exercise of civil rights that were
previously untouchable under constitutional guarantees, which
now seem dead.
In other news, a detailed analysis of the 1999 Omnibus Funding
bill has been completed for the upcoming third edition of "Gun
Laws of America," the unabridged guide to federal gun law.
It reveals that, although Congress says in a side note it provided
$42 million in funding for the NICS system, NO ALLOCATION TO RUN
NICS APPEARS IN THE FUNDING BILL. This means that, in addition
to operating against explicit written law (18 USC 926(a)(3); 18
USC 922(t)(2); P.L. 103-159 Sec. 103(i)) by recording the names
of all innocent retail gun buyers nationwide, the authorities
are running NICS without any direct OK from Congress. Experts
don't expect Clinton's administration to take action against the
apparently flagrant abuse of power. The government is simply running
regardless of its authority to do so.
Congress is reconvening this week following its Independence Day
recess. Consideration of the juvenile justice bill, which is packed
with gun-control laws that would only affect adults, is on the
agenda of many legislators. Included is a provision that would
outlaw legal private transfers of firearms between honest adult
citizens, without prior approval by the FBI. Considering the Bureau's
recent actions, such a law might be ill-advised. Permission to
forward this report to your representatives is granted.