Someone left a contact comment asking for information on how guns are sold. That will necessarily involve a few words about why guns are purchased, as well.
So, to begin, a gun is, as Chief Inspector Colin Greenwood commented to a Parliamentary committee, a gun is a tool, as much as a hammer or a saw is a tool. Like a hammer, it has a definite purpose, and is usually purchased for that purpose.
A farmer may or rancher very well go to a gun dealers, purchase a Sport Utility Rifle to exterminate “varmints” preying on his livestock. A suburbanite may be a hunter, out after a hunting rifle, or a duck gun, while a city dweller may want a handgun for self defense.
Or, almost as commonly these days, the prospective buyer may be a gun collector, looking for that ultra-rare “last piece to fill out the collection.” Or, quite likely, a person searching for a gift for a spouse or child.
In any case, the search for a gun generally starts at a gun dealers, where he can look over the guns on hand for suitability to purpose and for fit Once the choice is made, the purchaser must fill out an ATF Form 4473, show a government issued photo ID, and pass an FBI NICS “instant background check.” When all the dots are dotted and the approvals are given, money is exchanged and the buyer is on his way.
The routine is precisely the same for any purchase from a gun dealer, either at the dealers “brick and mortar” place of business, or at a gun show. If you buy a gun from a dealer, you must do all of those things, whether you fill out the form leaning on the dealer’s counter or sitting at a card table at the dealers gun show display.
Sometimes, however, no suitable gun is available. Many of us will turn to the internet, and select a gun from an internet web page. The drill is essentially the same, starting with a trip to a dealers to make arrangements for the dealer to “handle the paperwork.”
Once you have a Federally licensed gun dealer who is willing, for a fee, to handle the transaction, the prospective gun owner searches out one of the “gun auction” websites. Choose a gun, buy it, transfer funds to seller, go to your local dealer and get him to FAX a copy of his dealers license to the seller, and the seller will then ship the gun to the receiving dealer.
From that point, the drill is exactly the same as an over the counter purchase. Fill out the 4473, prove who you are, undergo a criminal background check, pay the dealer completing the transaction and take your gun home.
And finally, there is that much misunderstood “individual purchase,” which supposed provides millions and billions of free guns to the criminal underworld.
An individual seeking to sell a gun generally is well acquainted with the buyer. They are likely to share some aspect of the shooting hobby, such as collecting antique cap and ball revolvers, see each other frequently, and often travel to collectors meet’s or gun shows together.
However, assuming someone who has no friends at all who wishes to sell a gun, the sale usually starts with a trip to an internet gun auction to see what that gun in that condition is selling for now.
Once the current value is determined, and a few bucks added, an advertisement is placed. When a buyer calls the number or responds to the blind box, an appointment to meed is made, the gun examined, perhaps a bit of haggling goes on, and perhaps a deal is made.
The seller gets retail price, or close to retail price, and the buyer often collects a gun that is not available from any other source.
Finally, there are the actual underworld sales, where stolen “street guns” change hands. I am told that the usual drill is ether a sale from “friends or relatives” who are, like the buyers, known criminals. The buyer hits up a street corner drug dealer, asks about a gun, and is given a price. If money changes hands, the buyer is told to look behind the Wag-a-Bag dumpster in two hours. Tow hours later, the buyer looks wherever the gun was to b hidden, retrieves his gun, and goes on his way.
Those are the ways guns are bought and sold in America. There is remarkably little trade between the legal and the criminal side of gun purchases, simply because a gun with a value of $600 or more sells on the street for less than $150.
Given the price differential, and the ease with which someone who has just walked out of prison can obtain a street gun, it is no wonder that recent surveys find that only a fraction of one percent of prisoners convicted of a gun facilitated crime have ever attempted to purchase a gun from a legitimate source.
So there should be only one more thing to mention. Gift and inheritances. Up until now, the ATF has effectively presumed that a parent would not buy a gun for a jailbird, or leave a gun to someone who would misuse it. That assumption has proven accurate, as the tiny percentage of heirs and recipients who criminally muses a gun bears witness.