published Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Shut the gun-show loophole

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's hard to imagine that Gov. Bill Haslam honestly believes what he said Monday when he was asked, in the aftermath of the massacre of 20 children at a Connecticut elementary school, if Tennessee's gun laws are tough enough. He said, wrongly, that Tennessee's gun laws don't need fixing. Then he added, with equal duplicity, that Tennessee's only problem, if any, is the paucity of mental health care for potential shooters, a service he already has slashed.

There's no question about Haslam's chutzpah. He surely is aware of the gun-show loophole in Tennessee that's big enough to drive a truckload of assault weapons through. As do some other states, Tennessee still allows anyone of legal age -- criminals, gunrunners and straw-purchasers included -- to walk into a wide-open, public gun show and buy a semi-automatic rifle or handgun and high-capacity bullet magazines without a background check. They can just pay cash, no questions asked, and walk out.

So we have to wonder if, rather than being heartless, Gov. Haslam is just kissing up to the National Rifle Association and its death-grip -- we used that term advisedly -- on Tennessee lawmakers who cross it. Or if he has just perfected a comedian's deadpan timing for delivering a lame punchline while masking his true feelings about a deplorable status-quo.

In any case, no one is laughing at his response.

Not parents, whose children may be vulnerable to some deranged death-dealing gunman who might invade their school or the theater they patronize on a weekend with their friends.

Not state Rep. Debra Maggart, the exiting chairwoman of the Republican caucus in the Tennessee House and a lifetime NRA member. She was defeated in the November elections by NRA spending against her, as an example of its power, after she opposed the NRA's push last session for an expanded right for gun owners to bring their weapons on workplace and state college parking lots in Tennessee, never mind that employers and the state's academic and police officials strongly oppose such a law.

The family of Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin can't be laughing over Haslam's witless remark, either. Sgt. Chapin was shot to death last year by a Colorado fugitive, an escaped felon, who after a botched robbery at a Brainerd Road pawn shop was running for his car, where he had stowed a M-4 assault rifle. He had bought that assault weapon just a few days earlier at the R.K. Gun Show in Chattanooga without having to pass a background check that, had it been run, would have shown him to be an escaped felon wanted for fresh armed robbery charges in Colorado.

In fact, Matthews bought the M-4 assault rifle at the gun show from a part-time, unofficial and unlicensed gun dealer, Kevin Dawson. He could have paid Dawson cash for the gun. Instead, he traded three handguns he had stolen in Colorado. Dawson, of course, didn't know Matthews was wanted by Colorado authorities, because, thanks to Tennessee's gun-show loophole, he didn't have to run a background check for the sale. Nor was he interested, even if it were possible, to run a check on the handguns to see if they had been stolen.

Dawson, federal charges subsequently showed, was accustomed to posing as a private seller while, in actuality, he bought and sold guns regularly at weekly gun shows, and out of his car trunk. Were Tennessee's gun laws toughened pertaining to gun shows and private sellers and buyers, and federal laws on gun registration and manufacturers' inventories made more stringent, this sewer of gun sales to criminals could be stanched.

But that would take diligent focus and committed reform of gun laws. Gov. Haslam just isn't interested. As he said Monday, the only thing that bothers him and state government at the moment is how to keep both the NRA and private companies happy at the same time. That's impossible. The former is relentless in its effort to legalize private gun-carry by employees onto private employers' parking lots. Employers just as vigorously oppose the intrusion of guns on their private property, and for good reason: the prospect of an employee becoming another enraged worker who grabs a gun out of his car and murders his colleagues.

There's an obvious dividing line at stake over employers' private property interests and those of the NRA's dangerous agenda. Haslam should easily see the broader parallel of the threat to public safety etched in the gun-show loophole. Tennessee, and other state governments, surely need to close the loophole, which casually provides guns to criminals and, potentially, any demented soul considering massacre innocents.

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'He could have murdered all of them, but, he decided to just "cut them up a little."

A man stabbed 22 primary school students in a knife attack in China on Friday, officials said, the latest in a series of assaults. The attacker “has been detained”, said a spokesman for the Guangshan county government in the central province of Henan, where the stabbing happened.

If China had just taken this deranged person's guns away, then, heaven knows, he could never have stabbed the children! Mental Giants on the loose.......

December 19, 2012 at 1:16 a.m.
hambone said...

Allowing guns in the parking lot will save on gasoline!

When an employee is mad at a supervisor he won't have to drive all the way home to get his gun!

December 19, 2012 at 5:39 a.m.
cardcutter said...

If guns are so evil why are they used an estimated 75000 to 2000000 times a year by civilians to stop crimes? Why did the Oregon mall shooter stop when he saw a legaly armed civilian pointing his gun at him. If the guns are so bad how does anyone ever get out of a gun show alive? Freud said that an irrational fear of weapons is a sign of sexual retardation.

December 19, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
CathyB3 said...

"If guns are so evil why are they used an estimated 75000 to 2000000 times a year by civilians to stop crimes?"

This is very important data. What is the reference, please.

December 19, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
Sailorman said...

"Somewhere around 0.8 to 2.0 million violent crimes are deterred each year because of gun ownership and use by civilians. In addition, another 1.5 to 2.5 million crimes are stopped by armed civilians. There may be some overlap in these two categories because of the ways in which the data are collected, but there are almost certainly some two to four million fewer completed crimes each year as the result of civilian gun ownership."


St. Louis University Public Law Review Gun Control Symposium vol 18, no. 1, 1999: 217

December 19, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.
bret said...

ORRMEANSLIGHT, None of the 22 "stabbing" victims in China died and only a couple were even seriously wounded. Do you really want to compare that knife-wielding madman with a kid in Connecticut killing 27 people with assault weapons? Really? I think you just made the case for gun control better than any anti-NRA person ever could.

December 19, 2012 at 7:59 p.m.

Hi Bret,

On a little closer look, the madman chose to not murder them. He could have easily murdered them all. The frightened toddlers were just no match for this crazed adult. kwo

December 20, 2012 at 1:15 a.m.

Hi Bret,

On a little closer look, the madman chose to 'not' murder them. He could have easily murdered them all. The frightened toddlers were just no match for this crazed adult. kwo

December 20, 2012 at 1:17 a.m.

In a way, it is about the numbers, one, and, past one, in another way it is not. One murder is too many, period! So, the shock value, sick fame, sick legacy is what these monsters seek. Members of the United States Military have committed more of these atrocities than any other part of society. Maybe, even law enforcement authorities have committed many. So, if we take the guns away from the U.S. Military and Police Forces...then, when any of them go berserk they can only use a pocket knife. capiche? kwo

December 20, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Ken Orr,

"So, if we take the guns away from the U.S. Military and Police Forces...then, when any of them go berserk they can only use a pocket knife. capiche?"


Seriously, is there something wrong with you? No one can be as ignorant, illogical, stupid, dense, moronic, etc. ad infinitum as you are. How do you get around in your daily life without getting injured or hurting others? You are the most ignorant person I have ever come across in my entire life. I'm not exaggerating either. Every one of your posts contain the most fallacious, ignorant, dishonest, illogical, unreasonable, monomaniacal, stupid statements I've ever see in print.

December 20, 2012 at 4:26 a.m.

If we take away the alcohol from people we won't have the enormous numbers of drunk driving deaths/injuries/carnage. Even assault weapons death numbers are dwarfed into the micro when compared to the annual drunk driving deaths. Those who drink and drive are the true monsters! kwo

December 20, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.

TROUBLED YOUTH (19 January 2008 by Carl A. Patton)

These days the youth seem, so very greatly troubled. But how can there be trouble in the young and no trouble among the not so old?

Troubled youth flock, mock and strut attitudes of disdain for all things that to them makes no sense. Authority is seen as a bad dream.

Troubled youth that the parents and various so-called mature adults do not understand. Who wants to understand juvenile and young adult attitudes?

Meanwhile, young people, troubled monsters, kill, and murder innocent people as age in 2007-2008- 2012 had nothing to do with a young confused mind of homicide.

That devastating Crack-Pipe invaded the bedrooms and what came out were not so innocent babes that had abnormal illusions as chemicals cracked many lost forsaken brain cells.

Troubled youth, bad youth who refused to pay the driver’s license tax. Hence they perceived the charges of driving without and on a suspended license worthless but they did not bother.

Troubled youth at times came from troubled and worried parents who were also troubled youth.

But, meanwhile realizing the realities of the troubled youth, let it be written that all troubled youth surely did not come from a troubled past.

Satan smiles and embraces trouble. The Godly smile and surround love.

There was once a Hip-Hop man who did not Hop. He was able to sit and rest and peace was in his spirit as trouble left him.

Peace and Paradise, Carl A. Patton writing for the FreedomJournal Press 21 December 2012 in the year of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

December 21, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.

Oh, I just about forgot.......

The country of Germany had my video slide show blocked from them by the Universal Music Group. Viewers in Germany would get a message: 'This video is not available in your country'. I didn't like that because I used a remix (Fair Use Authorized, i thought) of a Moody Blues song, 'Say It With Love'. So, I have found music that works with my video, and, which meets all intellectual copyright guidelines for the same. Please view this video regarding the wonderful service great newspapers like The Chattanooga Times Free Press provides for all of us. kwo

December 21, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.
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