Background checks, firearms sales surge in record-setting January
With the FBI processing 2,545,802 checks through the National Instant Background Check System, January 2016 beat the previous all-time January record—set in January 2013—by 50,326 checks, the Associated Press reported on Feb. 3.
January’s 2.545 million NICS checks, although down from December 2015’s 3.3 checks—the all-time single month record—marks the ninth month in a row that has set a record for that month. It is also the third month in a row with more than 2 million NICS queries.
The number of FBI background checks is regarded the most reliable way to estimate gun sales nationwide since all sales conducted through federally licensed gun dealers, and some by private parties, must obtain a NICS check.
In a Feb. 4 National Review column, Charles Cooke recalls how the Washington Post estimated in 2013 that there were as many as 357 million firearms in circulation in the United States.
“If that was correct, the last two years’ worth of sales will have brought that up to at least 400 million—or 1.2 guns for every person here,” Cooke writes. “And if that buying spree continues—indeed, even if it drops off a little—it is entirely possible that, by the time that the next president is running for re-election, there will be half a billion guns in private hands in America.”
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Must be a FFL-dealer to legally buy/sell in world’s biggest gun market
Facebook announced on Jan. 28 that it was banning private gun sales on its social network and Instagram photo-sharing service because, according to The New York Times, the sites had inadvertently “become one of the world’s largest marketplaces for guns and (were) increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate transactions of goods.”
In a company press release, Facebook said it already prohibits people from offering marijuana, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs for sale. The prohibition against gun sales is an update of that policy, Facebook said.
Facebook, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors, was never directly involved in gun sales but has served as a gun sales forum with little oversight. For now on, only licensed gun dealers will still be permitted to advertise weapons on Facebook pages and Instagram posts. Unlike Craigslist and eBay, which outright ban all gun sales, Facebook will allow FFL dealers to conduct sales.
The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board praised Facebook’s new policy because it dove-tails with President Barack Obama’s Jan. 5 executive action to require “everyone who sells guns, including on the Internet, to register as a firearms dealer, which would require them to perform background checks on gun purchasers.
“Facebook’s new policy,” the Sun-Times editorial continues, “will complement that, helping to achieve the goal of reducing sales that don’t involve background checks.”
Facebook’s adoption of a more restrictive gun sales policy was not unexpected. Since Facebook’s Jan. 28 announcement, “hundreds and thousands of gun-related groups have been shut down,” an administrator of several new gun exchanges on the social media website MeWe told Vocative.com’s James King and Adi Cohen in a Feb. 3 chat.
“The majority of gun groups’ admins have gotten together and moved our groups to another social network,” he continued. “One that respects privacy and does NOT track your every move. No advertisement, no cookie tracking!”
One group, DFW Texas Gun Trader, told Vocativ.com that it was created Feb. 1 and less than three days later, had more than 1,000 members, some already posting ads to buy, sell or trade guns.
“Since Facebook has started banning gun groups, here is one for North Texas,” the DFW Texas Gun Trader administrator told Vocativ.com. “All basic previous Facebook rules apply to this page. Must be of legal age.”
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Florida House passes open carry, campus carry — awaits uncertain Senate fate
The Florida House on Feb. 2 passed proposed laws that will allow the state’s 1.4 million concealed carry permit holders to openly carry their weapons in public as well as on college campuses.
Both bills were adopted in 80-38 votes, entirely along party lines. According to the Associated Press, amendments were added before the vote to ban people who are in the country illegally from obtaining such a license, and allow legislators to carry concealed weapons in meetings of the Legislature.
But according to a Feb. 3 Sun Sentinel article by Dan Sweeney, both bills face problems in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami), who has already said that he will not give a hearing to the campus carry bill, effectively killing it.
In addition, Kristen M Clark of the Tampa Bay Times reported on Feb. 2, Portilla and Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando), have spoken in favor of a Florida Sheriffs Association amendment proposal that would essentially gut the open carry bill.
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INNOVATION v REGULATION
The ’95 percent’ 3-D solution
On Jan. 28, a 47-year-old West Virginia carpenter named “Derwood” released a youtube video introduction to his “mostly” 3-D printed semi-automatic firearm: The Shuty-MP1.
The Shuty-MP1 can fire a case of 9mm rounds like any other semi-auto but, unlike any other, Derwood claims in his videos that close to “95 percent” of the Shuty-MP1 is 3-D printed in PLA plastic, from its bolt to the magazine to the upper and lower receivers that make up the gun’s body.
“No one had ever tried to get a semi-automatic 3-D printed gun working before,” he told Wired magazine in a Feb. 3 interview. “I’m just one of those types, I like to find new things that people say can’t be done. It’s simple, but it works. The gun shoots great.”
Well, not that great. Durwood admitted to Wired that the plastic around the Shuty’s barrel begins to melt after 18 shots if it’s not allowed to cool.
In a Feb. 4 Popular Science blog, Kelsey D. Atherton notes that 3-D printable weapons “as a distinct category” didn’t exist until nearly three years ago when Defense Distributed introduced its single-shot Liberator.
Before the Liberator, people printed parts and incorporated them into existing guns, Atherton explains. After the Liberator, designers expanded beyond its single-shot design.
“That makes the Shuty-MP1 in many ways like the partially 3D-printed guns that predate it, where a printer makes some of the parts and combines them with off-the-shelf models,” he writes. “And even then, this is more proof-of-concept, and not a weapon someone would actually want to use.”
Which is why the Shuty-MP1 is different than the Liberator, claims Andy Greenberg in a Feb. 3 wired.com blog.
“Unlike other 3-D printed weapons that have spooked gun control advocates and raised thorny First and Second Amendment questions, the Shuty-MP1 is far from a fully printed firearm,” Greenberg writes. “’Derwood’s’ ’95 percent’ description may apply to the overall material that makes up the gun.”
Unlike the Liberator, the Shuty-MP1’s most complex moving parts and stress-absorbing elements are not made of plastic. It features a store-bought Glock barrel with a metal hammer, firing pin, bolts and springs.
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