The Arizona Daily Sun reports this morning that NYC's Mayor Bloomberg attempted to embarrass Arizona by hiring private investigators to buy guns at Arizona gun shows while insinuating that they would not pass the background check.
I find this unfortunate. Under federal law, person-to-person sales do not require background checks, although you are free not to sell a gun to someone you don't think should have it. Something else that is obscured is that background checks cost money, and thus affect the ability of these individuals to make money. Of course, if it does become required, then the cost will just be factored in. It is unclear from the article whether any of the private parties at the gun show did actually refuse to sell a gun to the PIs. They took video of the ones that did sell them a gun. I haven't seen it, but I have to wonder whether these were just the sellers of below average intelligence?
It is also unfortunate that so many people insist on exercising their rights to the detriment of common sense. Just because you are legally allowed to sell to anyone with an Arizona ID doesn't mean you should. One of the reasons that private deals do not require background checks is that you cannot make 'private' deals and simultaneously make a living from doing so. This implicitly limits the number of guns sold in this fashion. That is why the BATF keeps an eye on gun shows, as noted in the article. Failing to get a federal license to be a gun dealer deprives the government of tax revenue, and we know how much the government dislikes that.
Another thing that goes unsaid is that a network of dealers that assist in private gun transactions already exists. Websites like Gunsamerica and Gunbroker allow one to sell one's guns on the internet. In order to facilitate the sale, the gun must be shipped to a Federal Firearms License holder who resides near the buyer, who is allowed to ship guns through the mail and performs the background check. These businesses could easily supplant gun shows if the laws were changed. Economic self-preservation would seem to call for restraint.