On Saturday night, Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sparred on issues ranging from gun control to education spending to foreign policy (read: ISIS). If you didn’t watch it, you’re not alone. Saturday was filled with holiday parties, an intentional scheduling snafu by the Democratic National Committee no doubt.
But, one talking point that all three seemed to jump on was the “gun show loophole”. Here’s what Bernie Sanders had to say about it:
“Who denies that it is crazy to allow people to own guns who are criminals or are mentally unstable? We’ve got to eliminate the gun show loophole. In my view, we have got to see that weapons designed by the military to kill people are not in the hands of civilians.” (the Peak emphasis)
The gun show loophole has been debunked over and over again. A licensed firearm dealer at a gun show still must follow federal and state law on background checks. Where this gets sticky is private transactions that may or may not happen at gun shows. At issue is not the location of the transaction, but the status of the parties – whether the parties are private citizens. Colorado tried to enact this law as part of liberals’ sweeping gun grab in 2013.
Sheriffs in Colorado have repeatedly told the media that the laws requiring background checks on transfers between private parties are impossible to enforce. From the Coloradoan in 2014:
“Nobody accused of breaking either law had been booked into Larimer County Jail by mid-January, said Sheriff Justin Smith. Statewide, reports of the laws being violated are extremely rare, as law-enforcement officials in numerous counties have vowed to refrain from enforcing the laws some say are too vague, too difficult to enforce, or are in violation citizens’ Second Amendment rights….
“Not included in those numbers are people who bought, sold or transferred a gun without going to a gun store to seek a background check. Smith said that’s because the law lacks a tracking mechanism for the transfer of weapons, leaving his deputies without a way of knowing whether someone violated the law to obtain a firearm.
“There’s no way to know,” he said. “So how are police going to get involved in a private transaction in someone’s home with a legal piece of property? Obviously, they’re not.”
We all agree that cases in which guns are the weapon of choice for the mentally unstable are horrific, but instituting unenforceable laws only snags law-abiding citizens, not those who wish to do harm. None of the gun control measures that any of the Democratic candidates mentioned on Saturday night would have done anything to prevent mass shootings. Don’t take our word for it, take the Washington Post‘s word.