Letter: Forum editorial missed the point
All commercial gun dealers are required to have a Federal Firearms License. The city recently voted to maintain a ban on FFLs operating out of their homes. The Forum praises this decision and argues it is about zoning; I disagree.
All commercial gun sales are required by federal law to go through a dealer. Every customer who buys from a dealer must have a background check to ensure they are not a prohibited person (such as a felon). Whenever gun control comes up, advocates always claim that “universal background checks” is a high priority, but we already require background checks for commercial sales; what they are referring to is criminalizing private transfers and requiring that all private sales be mediated through a dealer.
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In their editorial, the Forum says people buy items online all the time and have them shipped to their door. Guns being delivered by mail to the buyer’s doorstep has been illegal under federal law for decades. All online purchases must be shipped to a dealer first, then picked up by the buyer so a background check may be conducted.
If I wanted to sell one of my guns to my neighbor, I would have to find a dealer who would run a background check for me. But this service is not free. Here in Fargo, the cost of a background check is $20-35. In other states where the gun industry is heavily restricted, the cost may be as high $50-100.
The gun industry is already hated. Guns are banned from nearly every major exchange such as Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, even some banks will not do business with dealers. People do not seem to understand that this drives private sales underground.
When it is harder for sellers to find buyers, sellers may turn to shady means to liquidate their guns. When legal private sales are made harder, illegal private sales become inevitable. The higher the fee is to conduct a background check, the more both parties can save by not conducting the background check at all.
The Forum makes the argument this is all about zoning. Nonsense. A car driving up to a house, going inside for 10 minutes, coming out with a box, and driving away does not affect the character of a neighborhood. These are not high-volume businesses where there is a line out the door all day. Dealers who operate out of their homes almost never keep inventory there, so there is no extra risk of burglary. Zoning is just a catch-all excuse to get rid of undesirables. Many other cities already abuse zoning law to shut down brick-and-mortar gun shops in attempt to squeeze the gun industry.
If people want background checks, buyers to be vetted, sellers to not be desperate, then stop driving people away. Markets for everything happen whether people want them to or not. There is no argument that we can prevent a market, rather do we want a market that operates responsibly?
Smith lives in Fargo.