Amid calls for new gun regulations, veteran Alabama hunter says easy answers don’t exist

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —  As the country grapples with two more mass shootings in public places, political responses range from tighter background checks, to better mental health care to calls for an “assault weapons ban.”

But retired NASA engineer James Moses doesn’t believe the problem has a political solution.

Moses has been shooting and hunting for 70 years. He’s president of the Alabama Pistol and Rifle Association.

Critics of tighter gun laws say guns are readily available and the problem comes down to the person holding the gun.

Moses agrees.

“It certainly makes sense to have a conversation, people are looking for some kind of solution,” he said. “Unfortunately, that solution is not out there. Evil exists, it will continue to exist. It does not respond to legislation.”

The U.S. House has passed two bills expanding gun purchase background checks in 2019. In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton massacres, there are new calls for the U.S. Senate to take the bills up,

But Moses doesn’t see background checks helping.

“There are too many firearms out there, too many casual sales,” he said. “I think firearms are advertised in the newspaper, they’re just everywhere. and, even the ones we have, don’t really make any sense, it’s cosmetics.”

Military-style weapons, like AR-15s, are often the target of ban calls. Moses says the AR-15 is often used by competitive shooters because of the accuracy weapon. He said the term “assault weapon” can also have an elastic meaning, so it’s not clear how many gun models could be included. He doesn’t believe a ban on those weapons would affect public safety.

“I don’t want to give ideas to fools or psychos out there, but there are other guns that can be rigged out to do an awful lot of damage very, very, quickly,” Moses said.

Moses also noted that a number of Democrats running for president have pledged to take on the powerful National Rifle Association. He said he’s among the 5 million members. He said it’s a group of U.S. citizens who will go out and vote. An attack on the group, he said, is attack on American citizens.

He said the problem of someone intent on doing harm, switching to a different style of weapon or waiting out a longer background check, highlights what a tangled problem the country faces. And he said, eventually people will argue for a drastic solution.

“You find yourself finally coming back to an outright ban on firearms, totally, and of course we’re opposed to that,” he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms says there are no background checks required of gun sellers who aren’t licensed.  But, transfers of guns from one state to another,  require the role of a licensed firearms dealer, where a background check would take place.

Here’s the ATF on the issue:

“Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides. Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a
Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence.”

Updated at 3 p.m., Aug. 6, to include more detail on state to state sales-transfers. 

Updated at 9:50 a.m.  Removed internet sales line

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