Shockingly easily, I’m afraid. Last night Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, was able to purchase this knock-off AR-15-type semiautomatic weapon — and clips of ammo — for $750 cash, no background check, no ID, no questions asked. From Armslist.com search to actual sale, the entire transaction took less than an hour and a half.
Today Rep. Stewart brought his new purchase into the legislature where the Civil Justice Subcommittee was going to take up his bill that would require a background check for all gun sales.
The funniest part of the whole affair, which I watched on-line, was when Subcommittee Vice Chair Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, nearly wet his pants as Rep. Stewart showed his new purchase to those in the room. He then tried to get all, “you silly Democrats don’t no nuthin’ ’bout no weaponry” on Stewart, who happens to have served in the military:
Carter: Mr. Chairman, excuse me I don’t want to interrupt, but this gun could be loaded …
Stewart: No, it could not because —
Carter: Yes sir! You obviously don’t own one, you do not have it properly safe. Do not point that gun at me! If you can’t assure me that gun cannot shoot.
Stewart: Let me give you that assurance and I did it at the beginning of the debate so that you would not have that concern. Actually, as I said, I had a state trooper inspect this weapon to make sure it was not loaded before it came in here and then, I had him secure it.
As Rep. Stewart told the subcommittee, an hour and a half after visiting Armslist.com, he was equipped as well as he had been when he was a U.S. soldier patroling the DMZ in Korea. So yes, I think he probably knows how to load and unload these things. Funny.
By the way, this is the kind of gun that was used in the July 2015 Chattanooga shootings. Support the troops, y’all.
Committee Chair Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, said he was “disappointed in the show,” despite him having a career in Public Relations, so you’d think he’d have an appreciation for such things. Stewart explained that the point of his “show” was to dispel the oft-repeated NRA zombie lie that every gun sale in America is preceded by a background check. As I wrote back in January, this simply isn’t true. All you need is an internet connection and enough cash and you’re good to go. Or, show up at one of our infamous gun shows and hang out in the parking lot for five minutes. Don’t even need the internet for that, and it’s all perfectly legal.
So that’s the loophole Stewart was attempting to close, and you’d think with everyone on high alert over terrorist attacks, a simple background check to buy military grade weaponry would be a no-brainer. Aaaand you would be wrong. Fresh off yesterday’s cowardly display of fealty to the gun lobby, Tennessee House Republicans today killed this simple, common-sense measure in committee, too. Someone had a sad over grandpa being forced to undergo a background check to buy a hunting rifle for his 14-year-old to go squirrel hunting with. Awwww he’s so oppressed!
And also, there are no consequences for kowtowing to the NRA in this state. At least, not yet. I applaud Tennessee’s Democrats for keeping up the fight. Supermajorities don’t last forever and the more Republicans ignore public safety in the interest of their NRA ratings, the sooner their supermajority will end. The day will come when they will no longer be able to claim that all we need to do to protect ourselves from terror attacks and gun violence is to arm every civilian. That patently stupid and lame excuse to disregard public safety is not going to fly much longer.