Congressional Staff Buys Guns Illegally

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The Colorado Freedom

Congressional Staff Buys Guns Illegally

by Ari Armstrong, April 3, 2001

Quick! Call 1-800-GESTAPO!

One definition of a police state is when government agents get to do things that send normal citizens to prison.

In a March 22 AP article, Shannon McCaffrey writes of the latest illegal actions of the government, funded by tax dollars:

Undercover congressional investigators using fake IDs were able to skirt mandatory background checks and purchase guns... The GAO [General Accounting Office, not to be confused with GOA] report was released Wednesday as part of a larger study -- "Lying and Buying: Using False Information to Obtain Firearms" -- prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee.

Why would the GAO use tax dollars to willfully break the law? Why, to push for more victim disarmament laws, of course. McCaffrey notes that "Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., of Congress' leading gun control advocates, plans legislation to close the ID loophole."

How might this "loophole" be closed? McCaffrey notes that the states where GAO bought guns illegally "have no additional state gun control measures such as fingerprinting or waiting periods." Note again how a "loophole" is invoked to violate Constitutional rights.

NRA leaders are frustratingly foolish. Anybody with an ounce of common sense could have predicted that by supporting the Brady law the NRA was thereby also supporting Brady's complete gun registration agenda, the obvious forerunner to gun bans, which Brady also supports. The NRA MUST repent and condemn the Brady law on principle.

Of course, McCaffrey failed to note one obvious implication: if the Brady law is such an abysmal failure, why not repeal it? If the so-called "ID loophole" is closed, criminals will still get guns easily. In fact, a new breed of criminal will arise to satisfy the demand for "illegal guns." The only demonstrated effect of the Brady law is to increase some categories of violent crime by wrongfully denying some citizens their right of self-defense (see John Lott's More Guns, Less Crime.)

But no one will accuse McCaffrey of being an informed writer. Her final sentence reads, "Two undercover GAO agents then went to randomly selected gun stores and gun shops where they filmed their purchases of rifles, handguns, semiautomatic weapons, pistols, ammunition clips and hollow point bullets."

I asked Bruce Tiemann ( to offer some technical definitions. He sent me the following:

There is a technical difference between both pistols and handguns, and between clips and magazines, though there is almost an institutional indifference to using these words properly.

A handgun is any firearm without a shoulder stock, whether it has a long barrel or not, and includes pistols, revolvers, and including obsolete things like derringers and pepper-boxes, which are like revolvers except the cylinder is full-length and there are 5 or 6 barrels instead of 1, and also those incredibly high-powered bolt-action hand-cannons that fire 30-06 rounds and up, such as the Remington XP-100 and the Thompson Contender. But pistols are specifically semi-auto handguns, like Sigs, Glocks, and the like.

Magazines are things which hold rounds in a gun, and may be detachable or not, and always have something like a spring or follower to keep the next round on top. Stereotypically, semi-auto handguns and battle rifles have detachable magazines, though for example the SKS has a non-detachable one, and many hunting rifles have internal magazines. Clips are passive, unspringed devices, such as stripper clips, used for loading magazines, detachable or not. An exception is the M-1 Garand, which employs a clip for loading, but it's not a stripper clip. It contains no coil springs, etc., but you don't strip its cartridges into the rifle, you place the entire assembly, comprising 8 rounds plus the clip itself which holds them together, into the rifle, and it stays there until all 8 shots are fired. By the way you can't refill it when it is partially fired, and it pops out with a perceptible Ping! when you have fired shot number eight, letting your enemy know you are now empty.

So why did McCaffrey choose to use redundant language? Was it just to increase the dramatic impact, or is it because she doesn't have the first clue about firearms? "Pistols" are necessarily "semiautomatic weapons," and rifles may be. Plus, the Brady registration law says nothing about magazines ("ammunition clips" to McCaffrey) and ammunition, so why did she include information about these items? McCaffrey could simply have written what's relevant, "Two undercover GAO agents then went to randomly selected gun stores where they filmed their purchases of rifles and handguns."

But of course the AP is simply an unbiased observer in the gun debate, right?

The Colorado Freedom