Going to the gun show

Ripley machine gun patent image, an early mach...

Sunday was gun show day. *ahem* I mean, sportsman show.

Gun shows are fun for watching people. They’re fun for talking to people, too, since you can have some awesome conversations with total strangers. But you also get some weird people who really just leave you scratching your head.

Despite all the signs posted, I had at least five people ask if they needed to provide a FOID card before they could look at a firearm. Why yes, yes you do.

Do I need one to purchase? Yes, yes you do.

Do you guys do background checks? Yes, yes we do.

Do you make me wait three days? Yes, yes we…Wait, are you from the ATF? Is this a sting?

English: Badge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobac...

Most of these people are just impatient. Or lazy. Or cheap. When asked why they don’t want to wait, they say they don’t want to have drive to pick it up in 3 days.

There’s an impression that it’s ridiculously easy to get a gun. It’s not, at least not through legal channels, and especially not in Illinois. You have to have a FOID card, which takes anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to get[1]. Once you have a FOID, you have to purchase a firearm from a dealer[2], and go through a background check. These are pretty simple – on the dealer’s end, they take about 2 minutes to process initially. Some can take several days due to delays and individual assessment by the Illinois State Police. Then you have to wait – 24 hours for a long gun and 72 hours for a handgun. Finally, you – yes, you, not your wife, not your brother, not your son – have to pick up the firearm from a federally licensed dealer within 30 days[3].

If you aren’t willing to drive to the dealer you purchased it from, it has to be transferred to another dealer. This costs, in shipping and paperwork. And takes longer.

I can’t speak to how easy it is to buy a gun off the street – I enjoy my freedom, and don’t particularly want to jeopardize it by committing a felony.

Soap box moment. I’ve heard a lot of talk from a lot of people about universal background checks. Some have said they’re ineffective. I don’t have the statistics, but I can say there’s something to be said to requiring them every single time a firearm changes hands. Not only is it nothing more than a minor inconvenience, it gives the ISP a chance to say, “OK, this person is clear.” or “Hold on, something doesn’t look quite right, we need to examine this more closely.”

How anyone can be opposed to that, I don’t know.

  1. The ISP says it takes no longer than 6 weeks to process a FOID application. This isn’t true. I waited for over 12 weeks. When I called the ISP to ask what the hold-up was, I was told that my last name is extremely common so the background check was taking longer. If you’re name is Smith, you’re screwed.
  2. You can purchase a firearm from a private party. It’s a fairly similar process, although private party sales don’t require a background check [yet]. Everything else is the same.
  3. After 3o days, you pretty much have to start the entire purchase process over.
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