Getting Out of A Business I Was Never In

Jun 23, 2022

Over the past few months I’ve been (reluctantly) winnowing out the contents of my safe. Because I believe good stuff-guns included- belong with good people who can use them, not languishing in a safe.

I’m no form of collector. Collecting takes money. I am an accumulator.

Over my career, I’ve accumulated tools, cameras, golf clubs, fishing tackle and, yes, some guns.

With another “landmark” birthday rapidly approaching, I’m trying to do the responsible thing and getting rid of “stuff” rather than leave that burden for my family when I’m no longer around.

The United States Senate has forced me to reexamine both my plan and its timing when it concerns guns.

With the Senate’s introduction of yet another piece of ill-considered, poorly-written, but virtually assured of passage legislation, they’ve forced me to reconsider my simplification plan. What will ultimately happen to the guns, ammunition and accessories I’d intended to dispose of has become a potential legal issue.

Skimming their 80-page legislation, I have the preliminary feeling that I will need to either dump everything ASAP or hold onto it -forever, rather than risk running afoul of the feds for being an unlicensed gun dealer. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that holding onto everything won’t be the popular decision in the house. We’ve already started making plans for repurposing the space currently filled with my accumulated “stuff.”

The “Tuesday night surprise” legislation removes some key words when it comes to defining what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms.

As the Firearms Policy Coalition has correctly pointed out, the new legislation’s designation of “engaged in the business” removes a key phrase: “with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” and replaces it with “to predominantly earn a profit.”

Essentially, an individual selling a personal firearm(s) is reconverting an asset(s) back into cash. But I don’t know anyone who ever sold anything with the “intent to lose money.” And that may be the hangup. In this legislation, “selling” is selling. There’s no mention of the intent “to dispose of excess or unwanted property” and no codified definitions of what constitutes being “in the business” leaves a bit more space for interpretation than I’m comfortable with.

Those absences create what I consider a “rubber ruler”.

And any inconsistent standard of measurement might result in a person disposing of personal property violating some unstated standard for “being in the gun business.” That, in turn, could lead to an unannounced and unwelcome visit from some federal officers looking to bust an illegal gun dealer.

The words “gun” and “dealer” used in close proximity especially when referring to a possible lawbreaker pretty much guarantee a not-particularly civil announcement of their arrival. As has been proven in too-many unfortunate instances, anyone executing a “dynamic entry” to your home is seldom presumed to be there for any good purpose. If you come into my home -unannounced and uninvited- the presumption in today’s world is that you’re there with nefarious intent.

Hopefully, that seems far-fetched to you. I’ve been around long enough to believe that there’s no longer any such thing as “reducing to the ridiculous” or “taking to the extreme” when it comes to bad legislation. We live in the era of extremity.

In essence, the Senate’s supposedly well-intended legislation has the potential to create a potential quandary about disposing of personally owned guns I once heard asked about prunes: “if three is enough, are six too-many?

The answer? You don’t know until you know.

Not reassuring.

Tomorrow, we’re hoping to have some real insight into the newest set of “reasonable restrictions” being forced on law-abiding gun owners.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd