10 Boston Other - Close the Gun Show Loopholeby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 11/1996 and the Boston City Paper in revised format 11/2006

“…A DANGEROUS “gun show loophole” continues to allow criminals and terrorists to legally buy and sell guns in the United States on a cash-and-carry, no-questions-asked basis.

At approximately 5,000 gun shows each year in 32 states, criminals and terrorists are allowed to purchase firearms from private gun dealers without an ID or background check. Although many gun dealers are federally licensed and therefore legally required to contact the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to ensure that a prospective purchaser is not prohibited from possessing firearms, private sellers have no such requirement.” — Boston Globe, August 16, 2008

In the same year that a very loved couple was brutally slain in their Foxboro Home, and in the same week that one Foxboro youth was killed at a party and another was left fighting for his life, and in the very same day that an eight year old boy accidentally shot his little brother with a gun he found in their home, and on the same day that the news reported more and more aggressive people are using knives and guns on highways, and on the same day that a man was convicted of beating his wife to death and cutting out her internal organs, and on the day a Stoughton man was charged with shooting a 19 year old Everett youth, this little gem ran in this very paper:

“Firearm and Custom Knife Show/Sale!” Against a silhouette of a gun were the words, “350 Tables! Fine collectable firearms. Custom knives. Modern Rifles. Handguns. Shotguns. Swords. Ammo. Parts. Militaria. $1 off admission with this ad.” I almost expected the words, “Kids admitted free!”

At the top of the ad, in tiny print, were the words, “Handguns sold only to permit holders and policemen.” Well, that’s good to know, anyway. Hey, wait. Does that mean I don’t need to have a permit to buy a custom knife? Where do you go to buy a permit for a sword? Can I get one like the Highlander guy uses to chop off people’s heads? (Then I would finally get some respect from that company that botched my new heating system!) Maybe I need a nice custom knife. And I forget that list on the fridge: “Need bread, milk, and ammo.” While I do support the constitutional right to bear arms, and while I do have a friend in the army who is a gun enthusiast, I think there’s an obvious line between the right to bear arms and a modern rifle or shotgun. There’s a big difference between wanting a handgun to protect your home and owning a sword that looks like it’s something out of medieval times. There’s a difference between buying a shotgun to hunt Bambi and Thumper and collecting weapons of destruction.

Do you have any idea how many people die each year playing with an “unloaded” gun?

I’m no gun expert, but my friend Sean, who is an army sergeant and stationed at Fort Bragg, and has several gun permits, is. A few years back, he took several of us to a shooting range and demonstrated the proper way to fire a handgun, and fired several shotguns, including a nasty one called a Hakeem that exploded a cinder block like it was a watermelon dropped from a ten-story building.

I learned one thing that day: Respect. A healthy respect for those nasty weapons, and I realized that most of them are probably too dangerous to be out on the street.

It really scares the hell out of me that so many people think gun and weapon collecting is a hobby. Comic books are a hobby. Many sports are hobbies. Painting is a hobby. And as much as I dislike the notion of people going into the woods with guns to shoot helpless animals, I do acknowledge that hunting is a hobby, too. But gun and knife collection — well again, it just scares the hell out of me.

I know, I know: “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” Probably true. I’m not proposing we outlaw guns. You want a gun to protect the homestead or yourself, fine. Get a permit and learn to use the thing. But do you really need a shotgun? Do you really need a knife that most people would use to carve an elephant? Why would you ever need to buy a sword or a custom knife? Is the Thanksgiving turkey really that difficult to slice that the old ginsu just doesn’t do the trick anymore?

I remember years ago (true story) I saw a store in New Hampshire with a big sign that said, “We sell beer, wine and ammunition.” What a great idea! One stop shopping! How about selling cocaine next to the flame-throwers?

Why do we sanction a gun show like this when our communities are so troubled? Recently, many of our community and church leaders have echoed the need for respect. We have high school kids spitting at rival teammates, kids who don’t respect their parents, and acts of prejudice ripping apart our community. People have died in these sleepy towns from acts of barbaric violence.

We also know that many parents are not monitoring the incredible violence and profanity their children are exposed to through television and radio. The kids become desensitized to it all.

With the all the obstacles we face, do we really need to glorify the weapons of destruction and make them so readily available? Do we need to encourage the enthusiasm for objects specifically designed to kill and horribly injure people?

Let’s have more of those “gun buyback” campaigns like the one channel 10 ran a few weeks back. You could drop off your gun at the local police station, no questions asked, and they even gave you a $25 gift certificate. It was a great idea and collected many guns.

Let’s keep the guns in the hands of the law-enforcement people, military, licensed hunters, and licensed private citizens wanting to protect their homes and selves. Let’s get rid of the extreme weapons, and the shotguns and swords and custom knives.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, they say. But guns sure do make it a lot easier.

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