On July 13, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a campaign urging retailers to reject gun purchasers during the buying process in the same way that Mark Kelly was rejected when trying to a buy an AR-15 from Tucson’s Diamondback Police Supply.
Moms Demand Action is focusing their campaign on Cabela’s over background checks that turn up nothing incriminating after three business days, but the overarching goal is clear—they want retailers to refuse to hand over guns to would-be buyers who send up red flags that might not be caught by background checks.
Ironically, the experience of one of Moms Demand Action’s fellow gun control proponents—Gabby Giffords’s husband Mark Kelly—may provide a perfect illustration of the kind of sale-ending involvement they want to see more retailers undertake.
On March 5, 2013, Kelly paid for a AR-15 rifle he intended to purchase from Diamondback Police Supply to show how “easy” it is to buy an “assault weapon.” The rifle was on a 20-day hold due to the fact that it had been traded in as part of a different purchase.
During the 20-day period, Kelly went on TV and talked about his purchase—appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer to say he was not really buying the rifle for himself but was planning on giving it away.
After enough focus was brought to bear on Kelly’s continued emphasis that he was not going to keep the AR-15, Diamondback Police Supply owner Douglas MacKinlay canceled Kelly’s purchase and refunded his money, explaining that he did not see any way Kelly could pass a background check for the rifle.
This is because ATF form 4473 explicitly asks would-be purchasers to explain whether they are the “actual transferee/buyer of the firearm” listed on the form. The form says: “Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”
In the backdrop of this cancellation was the fact that Kelly could not pass a background check for a handgun the month prior, because he showed Texas ID instead of Arizona ID.
So MacKinley exercised his leeway as a retailer and ended the rifle sale. This seems to be the very kind of retailer-involvement that Moms Demand Action wants to see taken on all instant background checks that have to be extended to find more information.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.