27 March 2006

Fewer FFLs in Alaska nowadays

From the Juneau Empire. Similar articles were featured in the News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News, but here's the Empire's take on it:

ANCHORAGE - Tougher federal gun regulations and high fees have led to thousands of Alaskans giving up their gun dealer licenses over the past decade, a recently released study said.

The number of Alaskans holding the federal government's most basic gun-seller license has plummeted about 73 percent in the last 10 years from 3,140 in 1994 to 845 in 2005.

By this year, the number had dropped further, to 798, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The license lets the holder buy most firearms in unlimited quantities and without waiting periods.

The decline mirrors a 78 percent reduction across the country, or 190,000 fewer gun dealers nationwide, according to the report released this month from the nonprofit Violence Policy Center, based in Washington, D.C.

"It used to be just about anybody's brother had a (federal firearms license)," said Anchorage resident Will Fowler, owner of Fowler Gun and Machine Shop. "Then they clamped down."

Wayne Anthony Ross says he held his federal gun dealer's license for 25 years so he could buy and sell thousands of firearms while collecting a huge arsenal of weapons.

But in the mid-1990s, Ross, a gun enthusiast and National Rifle Association board member, turned in the license.

"It became not worth it to open your home to federal agents, be fingerprinted and spend (hundreds of dollars)," he said.

Fewer dealers doesn't mean the sale of guns has been reduced. There are just fewer places to buy them, according to the NRA, gun-store owners and federal firearms authorities.

The state still has the highest per capita gun ownership in the country.

The News-Minor (motto: journalism of a lesser league) includes more of the article than the Empire chose to publish (wisely, in my estimation), which had the added tack:
National Gun-control groups applaud the reduced number of gun dealers, saying fewer firearms are making it into the hands of criminals because there are fewer "kitchen table dealers."
I bought my Desert Eagle through one of these "kitchen table dealers" in PA and received through a Mom & Pop sporting goods store in Delta. You had to push through the guys with pantyhose pulled over their heads and the ragheads in the corner waiting to pick up their AK-47s and M82A1s (more commentary on that later on).

And if you believe that, I have an ice bridge to sell you spanning the Delta River. I'll even throw in a nearby pipeline for a small additional fee.

Geez. These guys are clueless. At both ends, background checks have to be performed, including running one on the serial number(s) of the gun(s) involved. And if you fail, guess what, the transaction doesn't go through, and appropriate action will follow up.

Fewer dealers also means the ATF can better police those who have licenses, said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center.

Sugarmann also says that despite the myth [sic] of a gun culture leading to safer gun usage, Alaska ranks No. 2 in the nation in per capita gun-related deaths and injuries. The state also rates at the top of the nation for suicides involving a firearm.

How this relates to FFL restrictions is beyond me, apart from mere posturing for the likes of the Brady Bunch.

However, in all fairness, the AP does conclude with these paragraphs from a more reasonable source that actually deals with the problem instead of wagging their tongues for the Anti-2A propaganda machine:

Federal Agents in Alaska say gun dealers here aren't the main problems when it comes to gun-related crimes. In Alaska, the guns seized in crimes are stolen from people's homes not purchased from dealers, said Brad Earman of the Anchorage office of the ATF.

"In Alaska, we haven't been plagued with problem gun dealers," he said.

The state's problem is legitimate owners not keeping their guns locked up and not recording their serial numbers for police to track when they are stolen, Earman said.

I talked with the guys over at Down Under Guns in Fairbanks this morning about it all. The owner shook his head. His shop started out as a "kitchen table dealer" 30 years ago, and has now turned into a very nice, well-outfitted gun dealer & gunsmithing shop (they're putting in the new Trijicons for my Desert Eagle as I type this, I bought a chest holster and ammo can from them today, and tomorrow, I think I'll buy a pistol scope from them, too).

At any rate, let's look at what the Anchorage Daily News had to say about the matter:

In Alaska, the number of people with the federal government's most basic gun-dealer license -- the type 1 federal firearms license, which allows the holder to buy most firearms in unlimited quantities and without waiting periods, among other benefits -- dropped from 3,140 in 1994 to 845 in 2005. Today, there are 798, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The reductions are largely due to changes made in federal gun regulations in the 1990s during the Clinton administration. The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act in 1993, among other things, required license holders to notify local police of their intent to apply for a license. Prices for three-year licenses increased from $30 to $200. And the ATF began strictly enforcing the 1968 Gun Control Act, which says license holders must be "engaged in the business." That meant those with the licenses suddenly had to take pictures of their storefronts and prove they had business hours open for customers. Photographs and fingerprints of applicants were collected.

"It just became too onerous," said Ross, who is also president of the Alaska Gun Collectors Association. "Most of the firearms dealers in Alaska didn't make a living off firearms but enhanced their own collections or helped out people in the community. It was too much."

Ahhh, no surprise that we're still suffering from the fallout of the Klinton administration. The storefront tack to qualify for your FFL license spells a further economic hindrance to freely exercising 2A rights. It's a trend I am seeing more and more: Flat out attacking the Bill of Rights is too blatantly gauche (which is a French word for "left," btw), but if you can introduce extra hurdles (economic or logistic), you can essentially produce the same effect while giving the appearance that you are not really abridging the peoples' rights.

This seems to be the modus operandi of the Left. They do it with the courts--if you can't legislate something, reinterpret existing laws to get what you want (which is why Church & State issues really didn't appear until 1947, by way of example). So, it's not surprising that they would attempt to destroy a Constitutional right by taking another flank.

But these leftist morons can't even establish solid evidence that reducing gun dealers will prevent or have prevented gun violence:

They also say that while there is no proof of a direct link, they believe the reduction is one element that added to the dramatic decline in crime during the past decade, said Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

While Washington, DC remains on the top ten list for murders, and California, one of the Brady's A-list honeys, is responsible for more gun-related crimes than all of their "F" states combined.

But in Alaska, where anti-gun groups are few and far between and the state has the highest per capita gun ownership in the country, the NRA, gun-store owners and even federal firearms authorities say the shrunken number of dealers hasn't reduced the sale of guns -- other than fewer places to buy them. They say the stricter federal rules are targeted more toward Outside problems.

"Firearms are a huge part of Alaska culture and people are much more comfortable with firearms than elsewhere," said Brad Earman of the Anchorage office of the ATF. "What we are seeing here is not typical of the country."

This is one problem with federal policies...it usually can't be tailored to states' specific situations.

Even with the drastic reduction in the number of gun dealers in Alaska, the state still has three times as many gun dealers as gas stations, said the Violence Policy Center study. Only four other states -- Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming -- share the distinction of having more gun dealers than gas stations. "Alaska still has a lot of people who should not have federal firearms licenses," Sugarmann said.

By what criteria? An urbanite living in one of the highest crime areas of the country? The situation is quite different here.

And vehicle-related deaths are still higher than those gun-related. Should we reduce the number of gas stations, then? Maybe efforts to do just that explain the higher gas prices we've been suffering.

Alaska is also a state with very lax gun laws, Sugarmann said. "If you look at a state like Alaska, it's held out by the pro-gun people as a Shangri-la."

{Chorus of "Hallelujah"}

Another voice of reason shines through the smoke and mirrors of the anti-2A pundits:

Ross, though, says: "The criminals will get the firearms no matter what we do.

"There is a word, totemism, which is attributing evil spirits to inanimate objects. Too many people opposed to guns don't realize that, in effect, they are practicing totemism. Firearms can be used and misused. When there are problems, it is with the people, not the guns."

Not a bad parallel, since the Bradys take their stats "on belief."

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