Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Dome gunshow a vestige of a bygone era

Post by Brian O'Neill on April 28, 2014 at 9:29 am with 15 Comments »
April 29, 2014 7:47 am

The year was 1991. Bryan Adams topped the music charts, cell phones were beginning to shed unsightly pounds and The Silence of the Lambs ruled the box offices. And the Tacoma Dome hosted its last gun show.

In the ensuing 23 years our country has endured a major terrorist attack, two lengthy foreign wars and a tortuous economic spiral. It is a new era indeed, yet for all of that some aspects of society stubbornly resist change.

For example, if you were to attend the 1991 gun show at the Dome with the intent of purchasing a firearm from a private seller, the only requirement would be sufficient cash. Despite the violent introduction of drive-bys to our region and the surging phenomenon known as mass shootings, that singular requirement was still the standard at the gun show which took place this past weekend at the Dome.

Kate Martin’s article (TNT 4/26) highlighted the fact that the Dome’s recent sales event, like its ’91 predecessor, required no background checks for purchases made between private parties (unlike another gun show held simultaneously at the Puyallup fairgrounds). This is a classic example of the gun show loophole, a vestige of the past still clinging to the present.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Yet there seems little reason to point this out. After all, the gun debate is as stagnant as peace talks in the Middle East – a lot of hot air from both sides but little in the way of constructive change. If tragedies like Newtown are insufficient to mandate change, then what could?

Against that backdrop, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland commented that ideally the city should “require unversal background checks,” and added that “people do support background checks, including people who own guns.” On any other topic such remarks would not be controversial, but in the politically charged realm of gun rights these words are the verbal equivalent of a shot across the bow.

While the rhetoric from those who harbor extreme viewpoints (pro and con) is filled with sound and fury, the majority of Americans are in favor of both the 2nd Amendment and reasonable safety restrictions. According to a Gallup poll, that includes mandating background checks for gun sales between private parties.

The reason is simple. There is sufficient evidence demonstrating that many of the weapons purchased from gun shows find their way into the wrong hands, including cartels across the border and criminal street gangs in major U.S. cities.

The problem, as always, is that the gun lobby will not tolerate any restrictions on the right to bear arms, whether one is a law-abiding citizen or an unmedicated psychotic suffering dangerous hallucinations. This viewpoint is a staunch defense of citizens’ rights, but what it fails to recognize is how an overzealous focus on a singular right can trample on so many others.

The 65% of Americans who support background checks have an expectation that their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness will not be infringed by a society awash in firearms. Tacoma’s passionately articulate mayor, along with several of her fellow council members, understand this.

But a few others don’t view this as a matter of public safety. Councilman David Boe opined that “no one called me to see if it’s OK for Justin Bieber to come to the Tacoma Dome,” (because runaway estrogen can be toxic?). Councilman Joe Lonergan worried about lost revenue, suggesting that the suitable response was to “have a study session.” (Sure, that always helps.)

The sponsor of the Dome’s gun show, Wes Knodel, responded to Strickland’s comments by uttering the words calculated to strike fear in the hearts of politicians everywhere: National Rifle Association. Rather than address the legitimate concerns of elected officials, Knodel has chosen playground politics (i.e. calling in an older brother to kick the crap out of a rival).

It is disheartening that after so many years, and so much gun violence, little has changed with respect to gun safety. But at least there are a few voices of reason among Tacoma’s city council willing to speak up on behalf of the people.

It’s worth keeping in mind come November.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. Brian please show that stats that show many of the guns purchased from gun shows end up in the wrong hands!

    I can’t believe that you are pounding the ANTI-GUN thing again!

    Don’t they tell you to write anything else?

    No one with a brain at all believes the gun shows are the reasons that people are shot.

  2. smokey984 says:

    Unfortunately, even normally level-headed scholars can get very emotional debating guns. Perhaps I am naive, but I have continued to be amazed by the great lengths people can go to attack others to distort research.
    American culture is a gun culture–not merely in the sense that in 2009 about 124 million people lived in households that owned a total of about 270 million guns.
    In the entire United States during a year, only about 30 people are accidentally killed by private citizens who mistakenly believe the victim to be an intruder. By comparison, police accidentally kill as many as 330 innocent individuals annually.
    A national survey conducted by John Locke, author of “More Guns Less Crime”, 3rd edition, indicates that about 95 percent of the time the at people use guns defensively, they merely have to brandish a weapon to break off an attack. Criminals are motivated by self-preservation and guns can therefore be a deterrent.
    In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun control laws, almost half of all burglaries are “hot burglaries. In contrast, the United States, with fewer restrictions, has a hot burglary rate of only 13 percent. Criminals are not behaving differently by accident.
    When the price of apples rises relative to that of oranges, people buy fewer apples and more oranges. To the non-economist, it may appear cold to make this comparison, but just as grocery shoppers switch to cheaper types of produce, criminals switch to attacking more vulnerable prey. Economists call this, appropriately enough, “The substitution effect.” Which policy will save the largest number of lives?
    Over 89 percent of adult murderers had criminal records as adults.
    The news media plays an important role in shaping what we perceive as the greatest threats to our safety. Because we live in such a national news market, we learn quickly about tragedies in other parts of the country. As a result events appear to be much more common than they actually are.
    In 2006 there were a total of 642 accidental firearm deaths in the entire country. A relatively small portion of these involved children under age ten: 13 deaths involved children up to four years of age and 18 more deaths involved five-to nine year olds. In comparison, 1305 children died in motor vehicle crashed and another 392 died when they were struck by motor vehicles, 651 died from drowning, and 348 were killed by fire and burns. Almost 3 times as any children drown in bathtubs each year than die from all types of firearms accidents. Of course any Child’s death is tragic and it offers little consolation to point out that common fixtures in life from pools to heaters result in even more deaths. Yet the very rules that seek to save lives can result in more deaths. For example, banning swimming pools would help prevent drowning, and banning bicycles would eliminate bicycling accidents, but if fewer people exercise, life spans will be shortened. Does anybody get my point?

  3. smokey984 says:

    and OBTW, promote positive and reject negative:

    HOUSTON — A mother out with her two children to go shopping became the victim of would-be purse snatchers, but a good Samaritan armed with a gun came to the rescue.

    “It happened so fast,” said Brenda Vasquez, who manages the Family Dollar store in the 3400 block of Orlando Avenue in northeast Houston.

    She witnessed the assault.

    “This lady opens her car door, grabs the woman’s purse and they reverse. While they’re trying to reverse, the lady is holding on to her purse still, chasing them all the way to the middle.”

    That’s when a perfect stranger intervened. He happened to be in his car in the parking lot when it happened.

    “And that good Samaritan came out, drew his weapon and scared them. And that’s when he pulled them out of the car.”

    Someone snapped a picture of the man holding the two suspects at bay. A few minutes later, police arrived and took the male and female suspects into custody.

    The man who first confronted them purchased some candy for his kids and drove away.

    “The guy is something else,” said Vasquez. “He’s a hero.”

    Police were not releasing the names of either the good Samaritan or the victim.

    No one was injured.

    A great 2 minute video:

  4. smokey984 says:

    and OBTW2:

    Psychiatrists Are the New Federal Gun Control Agents and Political Thought Police.

    Please enjoy this brand of independent thinking:

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    While I appreciate the thoughtful replies, none of this staunch defense of firearms relates to the topic of the column. To wit, individuals should be required to prove that they are legally permitted to purchase a firearm. That should be the case regardless of whether one purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer or private individual. How that relates to an anti-gun mentality is beyond me. I own a firearm, have used firearms in the course of my professional work and am adamant that people should have access to firearms (providing they are not criminals, a mental health risk or utterly irresponsible).

    Guns are dangerous and need to be treated with proper respect. Please refer to the Gallup poll cited in the column and recognize that most people in America agree. As for “proof,” I would refer you to a documentary titled, “Arming the Cartels.” It demonstrates just how easily (and frequently) gun show purchases travel across the border to be sold on the black market.

  6. smokey984 says:

    It would be interesting to provide statistical analysis of what percentage of guns bought from gun show purchases make it across the border. My guess would be less than 1 percent…

    However, aren’t the police just as responsible? My case in point: A federal operation dubbed Fast and Furious allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so the arms could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

    If I purchased a gun from said gun show or a licensed gun dealer and it was used in a crime across border I would go to prison. Not a single head has rolled from that case. A couple of resignations…funny how when Cops investigate cops the accountability factor has blurry lines.

    I would make the argument guns are not dangerous. People are dangerous…with fingers, with feet, with cars, piloting airplanes etc..A gun is no more dangerous sitting on counter than a spoon. Both may be used in the murder of another human being.
    The requirement to prove I can legally purchase a firearm is contained in the second amendment. And that requirement says: Shall not be infringed.

    Any legislation imposing additional requirements is null and void. It’s that simple.

    Even if a requirement was unconstitutionally implemented, as it is in other states, bad guys (when choosing evil) will buy, cheat or steal their way to a firearm anyway..via the black market.

  7. smokey984 says:

    So to continue with John Locke’s book, “More guns, less crime, 3rd edition.” Here is a link with some statistical mapping:

  8. smokey984 says:

    and so proof of what back ground checks eventually lead to, in order of precedence:

    1. Background check to buy a gun.
    2. Once bought, register your gun.
    3. Once registered, now confiscation.

    and as always, enjoy!

    Link to proof:

  9. smokey984 says:

    Sorry to spam.

    A third link from Connecticut:

  10. I think I hear crickets.

  11. simonsjs says:

    Brain are you unable to respond because there isn’t a legitimate argument you can come up with or is it because you realize this piece is really anti-American and you no longer want to participate?

  12. Brian O'Neill says:

    This has passed beyond the exchange of legitimate ideas and into the rhetoric of “gun advocacy above all else.” Again, refer to my previous comment about the point of this column (from which the comment string has strayed).

    Time to move on.

  13. smokey984 says:

    So as Tacoma Counsel votes to require background checks of private fire arms sales..apparently they forgot state law to take into consideration, to wit:

    Unfortunately for the city of Tacoma RCW 9.41.290 entitled “State Preemption” states

    “The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”

    Thus their city ordinance is null and void. Of course this will be challenged in court and thrown out just like the ordinances Seattle keeps trying to enact. A wonderful use of taxpayer dollars as usual.

  14. Brian O'Neill says:

    The vote – which passed without dissension – was not related to the state code you cited. The resolution passed by the council required that the property owned by the city will no longer be leased out for events that do not meet the basic background check standard required by federal law. This is not a new city ordinance, it is yet another rental policy for the use of city property.

    That’s why the state attorney general (and the gun lobby) was quiet.

  15. So, Brian (sorry for being so late to the party), please tell me just how this entire private sales enforcement thing will work. See, this isn’t a “gunshow loophole” as what you are proposing (along with the rest of the anti-gun left) is restricting ALL private sales or transfers, not just ones found at a gun show. My giving my son his first hunting rifle for Christmas would be a transfer that would have to be regulated as much as a sale out of the trunk of a car in the parking lot of a gun show.

    Now, in order for this to actually be enforceable, you would first have to have a record of all existing firearms held in private collections. Not just handguns, but all firearms. How else would the police know that firearm was transferred through an FFL? If the police don’t know who owns what, the actual transfer requirements would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. This means that registration would have to naturally be done first.

    But wait, I hear you yell, what about criminals? Will they register their firearms? Of course not. Not only will they not register them, the supreme court flatly said they aren’t required to, due to self incrimination (it’s already illegal for a felon to have a firearm). So, your silly little law would ONLY apply to law abiding citizens, who aren’t the problem to begin with. So, tell me, just what are you going to accomplish with this law? Less than nothing?

    Please, Brian, think things through before supporting such trampling of our rights.

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