For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

New gun law triggers frustration

Express Staff Writer

ju15gun.gif (13759 bytes)Dave Seamons in his Hailey gun shop, High Desert Sports, is concerned that background checks on buyers and owners of hunting firearms will be a hassle for legitimate customers. (Express photo by Willy Cook)

A law that takes effect in December requiring federal background checks for all firearm purchases has some local gun dealers and enthusiasts up in arms.

Under the new federal gun law, people who buy sporting arms, including rifles and shotguns, will be checked against a federal criminal database.

Purchasers of handguns are already subject to an instant background check in Idaho.

The new measure angers local gun dealers, because they think it could trigger a check not only for purchases but for repairs as well.

That is not the case, according to Nancy Hwa, a spokeswoman for Handgun Control, a gun-control lobby group that supports the provision.

Nonetheless, local gunsmiths and enthusiasts think it’s one small step toward loss of the right to bear arms.

"It depends how far they go with it," said Dave Seamons, co-owner of High Desert Sports in Hailey.

Seamons, who sells guns, ammunition and hunting and fishing supplies, also repairs guns in a basement shop.

"If it’s just new and used firearms purchases, that’s fine," he said.

In the case of repairs or adjustments, however, he thinks the checks would be excessive.

"They already own the gun," Seamons said. "That’s going to be a hassle, a big hassle, especially for the customer."

Those in the gun community are used to negative attention from the press, especially after the recent rash of shootings in public schools across the U.S.

Seamons, however, said he’s never had a youth try to buy a gun, and the idea of one doing so is "ludicrous."

"The last thing I want to do is sell a gun to a criminal," Seamons said.

Down the street, Torrey Grubbs at Bob’s Sports, Pawn & Lock, considers the new measure an attempt by the government to keep a list of people who own guns.

"Most of us in the biz are fearful the government is setting up a gun registry," Grubbs said.

One thing Grubbs sees resulting from the measure will be an increase in the "gray-market" for guns, people selling firearms at gun shows or from their homes.

Besides word of mouth, Grubbs pointed out that anyone who wants a gun but needs to avoid government scrutiny can search newspaper classified ads like those in the back of any newspaper.

"A private individual can sell anything he wants to sell," Grubbs said.

Like Grubbs and Seamons, David Rosser, president of the Blaine County Gun Club, thinks the problem with guns in America is not the guns. Instead he thinks it is the decay of morals that pushes people to use guns in crimes.

"The guns have always been available," Rosser said.


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