Gun shows: Tupperware parties for criminals?

gun-show In mid-January, Northfielder Mary Lewis Grow authored a commentary in the Star Tribune titled Security alert: Gun show loopholes. (Mary Lewis is co-founder and board member for Citizens for a Safer Minnesota.)

In today’s Strib, there’s an article titled Effort to tighten Minnesota’s gun law getting folks riled up.

[St. Paul Rep. Michael Paymar] said the proposal addresses a significant loophole: While many gun show dealers have federal licenses, which require them to run background checks on purchasers, nothing requires someone who simply shows up at a gun show to sell a gun to do the same. Gun shows, according to one gun control group, are "Tupperware parties for criminals."

I’m a middle-of-the-roader when it comes to gun control.  So it seems like a good time to learn more.


  1. Paul Zorn said:


    What does it mean to be a “middle of the roader” with respect to gun control? BBs but not bullets? Bullets but not bazookas?

    March 4, 2010
  2. Jane Moline said:

    The NRA position is that anyone should be able to buy a gun at a gun show–and they do–all kinds of criminals. We make you get a driver’s license in order to drive a car (and the dealer you buy your car from makes sure you have one.) It is reasonable to make gun purchasors show they are legal to own a gun.

    Maybe, Griff, since you are middle of road kind of guy on this it means that you think some criminals should get to buy guns?

    Oddly enough, most gun owners agree that it is reasonable to apply the same rules to gun shows as gun dealers–waiting period included.

    March 4, 2010
  3. norman butler said:

    Thus you suffer the fate of all messengers, Griff.

    March 4, 2010
  4. Phil Poyner said:

    I also consider myself a “middle of the roader” on this issue. First, consider the extremes. On one side we have those that believe there should be no private ownership of guns, that the “…well regulated militia…” section of the second amendment is paramount, and since most private owners contribute nothing to the “militia” they have no rights under the second amendment. On the other side we have the folks that believe there should be no restrictions on gun ownership, those who tend to like the “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” section of the amendment. I fall somewhere in the middle.

    I have owned pistols in the past (I used to love indoor target shooting) and was even granted a concealed carry permit when I was stationed in Colorado, so I’m not exactly anti-gun. But I believe there should be restrictions. I can’t imagine why anybody would need to own an assault rifle, for example. I also believe that background checks and safety courses should be required before purchase. I believe that if you have kids, you should be required to store any guns you own in a gun safe. I believe that if you’re armed any blood alcohol content should be enough to get you arrested and convicted of a felony.

    All those positions would probably draw comparisons between me and Joseph Stalin from one extreme, and me and Adolph Hitler from the other!

    March 4, 2010
  5. john george said:

    Phil- Your approach sounds reasonable to me. The association of criminals with guns is somewhat of an emtionally loaded issue. I would also question the necessity of owning an M-16 or AK-47, unless they are disabled models held just for the association with a war veteran. There is a pretty good read here-

    There are some interesting statistics presented there. This last sentence is tell tale of the problem, IMO:
    “Let’s be honest. If someone wants a gun, it’s obvious the person will not have difficulty buying a gun, either legally or through the extensive United States black market.”

    March 4, 2010
  6. Jane Moline said:

    I agree with you Phil, and I own a lot of guns.

    March 5, 2010
  7. Phil Poyner said:

    I’m just amazed that the topic of gun control can actually be less controversial than that of small-town governance! 😉

    March 5, 2010
  8. john george said:

    Phil- The difference is that small town governance just involves people shooting off their mouthes!

    March 5, 2010
  9. Phil Poyner said:

    John, sometimes it feels more like “death by a thousand cuts”!

    March 5, 2010
  10. john george said:

    Or, getting nibbled to death by ducks!

    March 5, 2010
  11. Phil Poyner said:

    No worries; we’ll take care of those killer ducks with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! Brother John…if you please, consult the Book of Armaments.

    Brother John: Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one.

    Cleric: [reading] And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths, and carp and anchovies, and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit-bats and large chu…

    Brother John: Skip a bit, Brother…

    Cleric: And the Lord spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

    Brother John: Amen.

    All: Amen.

    Sorry, I can’t resist the temptation to use a Monty Python reference.

    March 5, 2010
  12. john george said:

    Phil- LOL! Gives a whole new urgency to keeping one’s ducks in a row!

    March 6, 2010
  13. Ray Cox said:

    It is interesting to see how people react to this proposed legislation. From what I gather, there is very little if any proof that criminals buy guns at gun shows. I think most criminals obtain guns either by stealing them out of homes and businesses, or by purchasing them from other criminals. Imposing new restrictions on gun show purchases will not stop either of these sources.

    Gun shows are not free for alls. The vast majority of sellers at gun shows have federal firearms licenses and must do the required background checks on purchasers. There can be some private individuals that simply decide to get rid of their gun collection and rent a table and sell off the stuff. Those sales typically are unregulated and are what the Paymar legislation is aimed at. (no pun)

    But, but biggest concern about guns for me is still that fact that people in America seem quite capable of using them on each other. I’m much more concerned about raising a bunch of people that think it is OK to shoot people as a way of dealing with an issue than I am someone purchasing a gun at a gun show.
    .-= (Ray Cox is a blogger. See a recent post titled Three Links Apartments) =-.

    March 7, 2010
  14. john george said:

    Ray- Did I really understand you correctly, that we should start teaching people right from wrong? Radical!

    March 7, 2010
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    Paul, I think Phil did a fine job in comment #4 of explaining a “middle of the roader” position that I’m pretty comfortable with. (I know, a preposition is a bad word to end a sentence with.)

    March 8, 2010
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    How about the open-carry (unconcealed weapon) movement? See the Sunday NY Times: Locked, Loaded, and Ready to Caffeinate.

    But a grass-roots effort among some gun rights advocates is shifting attention to a different goal: exercising the right to carry unconcealed weapons in the 38 or more states that have so-called open-carry laws allowing guns to be carried in public view with little or no restrictions. The movement is not only raising alarm among gun control proponents but also exposing rifts among gun rights advocates.

    March 8, 2010
  17. Phil Poyner said:

    Griff, I’m not sure if the open carry movement would even get any traction here in Minnesota. It looks like their goal is to get “may issue” concealed carry laws eased in their states to “shall issue” by a). Openly carrying their weapons in accordance with their state open carry laws, b). Making the public nervous, and c). Getting the public (including businesses) to pressure their legislators to change the concealed carry laws. Obviously we must be talking about handguns; you could concealed carry a long gun, I suppose, but why the heck would you want to?

    Anyhow, in Minnesota we’ve had a “shall issue” law in effect since 2005 or so. In addition, you have to have a permit to either open or concealed carry a pistol, so there’s no large group of people in this state that could open carry but not concealed carry.

    If anyone reading the blog is in law enforcement, they may be able to correct any errors in my understanding of current gun laws if I’ve made any.

    March 8, 2010
  18. Phil Poyner said:

    Ray, I particularly liked your third paragraph, as I worry about the same thing myself. Frankly, I wish we were raising people that felt there was no room for violence of any sort when it comes to settling a dispute, but I’m sure there are many that would disagree with me.

    John, I’m thinking that would depend on whether we were teaching a particular version of “right and wrong” or something more universal.

    March 8, 2010