An opinion piece by David Kopel posted by the Washington Post takes issue with Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown For Gun Safety lobby’s system of gun laws that have already been enacted in Colorado, Oregon and Washington so far, with a ballot including them coming up in Nevada in 2016.
Among what Kopel calls“a strange system of ‘universal background checks,'” laws based on the Bloomberg system have redefined the term “transfer” to mean something completely different from what gun owners have long recognized, and it’s pretty absurd.
“In normal firearms law, a ‘transfer’ means ‘a permanent exchange of title or possession and does not include gratuitous temporary exchanges or loans,” he writes. “However, Bloomberg laws create a very different definition. For example, the Washington state law says that ‘Transfer means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.'”
So what’s that mean? Kopel points out that it refers to your sharing a shotgun with a buddy while target shooting on your own property, or your brother wanting to use your rifle on a deer hunt. Under those situations, the guns would have to be “transferred” at a gun store.
So if you wanted to lend a gun to someone for the morning, the retailer would have to act as if he was selling a firearm out of their inventory. The transferee (the person borrowing the gun) would have to fill out an ATF Form 4473 and the retailer would have to contact the FBI or its state counterpart to conduct a background check on the transferee.
That’s not all. “And then, the retailer must take custody of the gun and record the acquisition in her Acquisition and Disposition book. Finally, the retailer hands the gun to the transferee and records the disposition in her Acquisition and Disposition book. A few days later, after the hunting trip is over, the process must be repeated for the neighbor to return the gun to the owner; this time, the owner will be the transferee who will fill out Form 4473 and undergo the background check,” Kopel writes.
There are also more complicated rules governing when someone is allowed to be “loaned a gun” in case of an emergency, but only if it’s necessary “to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” and the loan “lasts only so long as immediately necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm.”
Kopel also points out that Bloomberg laws make ordinary safety training impossible unless it takes place at a corporate target range, which are provided an exemption.
All classroom instruction involving firearms but no live fire would be illegal without literally dozens of transfers occurring.
In Washington, to get around this for hunter education classes, the state government is claiming that Hunter Education instructors are law enforcement officers and therefore exempt under the terms of the Washington Bloomberg statute, despite having no law enforcement authority or training.
“The stated purpose of the Bloomberg laws is to prevent prohibited people from obtaining firearms, since prohibited people are more likely to perpetrate firearms crimes,” Kopel writes. “In formal or informal safety training, there is no realistic risk that a student who holds a firearm for a few moments, before transferring it to another student or the instructor, is going to use that firearm in a violent crime.”