Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Blogswarm Over CNN Story

CNN ruined my quiet Sunday. I was reading this Internet thing, and saw a post on Smallest Minority who found it on Freedom Sight who reports that Trigger Finger is all over the story (see more links below). Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has mentioned the story. In fact, it is turning into a real blogswarm and there will be many more links by the time I hit the post button.

You see, CNN sent a reporter from Georgia to Texas to buy a .50 caliber rifle from a private person and bring it back to Georgia where they proceeded to shoot at an airplane door. In so doing, they may have broke Federal law.

Here's my take. I am a licensed Curio and Relics Collector. This license is a subset of a Federal Firearms License (FFL). It is also known as an FFL(03) and I am limited to the purchase and transfer of guns that are older than 50 years (this is the chief criteria, there are others). I got this license to avoid going to jail. I buy guns when I travel and I travel a lot.

Based on my reading of the law, I think the CNN reporter broke it. Here is what the ATF says on their site:
Nonlicensees are generally prohibited from acquiring firearms outside their State of residence or transferring firearms to nonlicensees who reside out-of-State. 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) and (5).
There is also an FAQ page that states:

(B2) From whom may an unlicensed person acquire a firearm under the GCA?
A person may only buy a firearm within the person's own state, except that he or she may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a licensee's premises in any state, provided the sale complies with state laws applicable in the state of sale and the state where the purchaser resides. [18 U. S. C 922( a)( 3) and (5), 922( b)( 3), 27 CFR 178.29]

Here is a link to Title 18 United State Code mentioned above. And here is my plain English paraphrase: If you do not have an FFL, it is illegal for you to give or sell a firearm to anyone who you believe does not live in your state (paragraph 5) unless it is part of a bequest or a loan for legitimate sporting purposes. At the same time, it is illegal for anyone without an FFL to transport a firearm into his or her own state unless it is part of a bequest, etc. (paragraph 3).

If you make a private purchase you must make it through an FFL and have it sent to you under their license. In other words, the government wants you to fill out that Form 4473 somewhere. Also, there could be state laws in Georgia and Texas that pertain.

I think that CNN broke the law and suborned an otherwise innocent Texan into breaking the law. If they made a straw purchase, then the above sections still apply since they received the rifle from someone, but it may let the original seller off the hook.

I am not a lawyer and bloggers who are need to look at this. If CNN broke the law, that is the story not the fact that a .50 caliber rifle packs a punch or that someone who is willing to break the law can do so. Any law can be broken and CNN may well have proved it.

Other Links:
Clair Files (Originating Link)
Trigger Finger 1
Trigger Finger 2 (with conclusions similar to above)
Trigger Finger 3 (straw purchase?)
Trigger Finger 4
Trigger Finger 5 (calling for a blogswarm)
War on Guns

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