Jonathan Hoffman: Proposed gunshow ban violates first, second amendment
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Jonathan Hoffman: Proposed gunshow ban violates first, second amendment

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

In the past, I have defended the notion that there is a hierarchy in the Bill of Rights. Specifically, the first two amendments in relation to the rest. There are three aspects of human existence: spiritual, intellectual and physical. The First Amendment covers the spiritual and the intellectual, while the second covers the physical. With the possible exception of the Ninth Amendment, the rest are procedural. It is the first two that define a free citizen. So, if you really want to make a libertarian see red, try fooling with the First or Second Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

There is an ongoing effort to try to exclude gun shows from the Pima County Fairgrounds. This is not a new thing, it is a natural next step after the Tucson City Council banned gun shows from the Tucson Convention Center.

According to a recent article in the Arizona Daily Star, a group called Citizens for a Safer Pima County is lobbying for the banning of gun shows at the Pima County Fairgrounds “primarily because of their concerns that private sales of firearms are allowed there without a background check,” the Star reports. I think I can help relieve them of their concern — private sales are allowed everywhere in Arizona without a background check.

There is no such thing as a “gun show loophole.” In fact, it is impossible for a private citizen to perform a background check. The background check system that is used by dealers is, well, set up for dealers. It is not available to the private citizen. The bottom line is that not only is there no legal requirement that a background check precede a private sale, it is not possible to perform.

I doubt that the Citizens for a Safer Pima County folks are liars, they are probably just dupes who bought the “gun show loophole” deception. We all tend to believe things that support our biases. There was, however, someone, at some point, who felt it necessary to invent a crime where none existed, to somehow rein in “The Other.”

One of mankind’s base fears is fear of “The Other,” in this case gun owners, and what better way to rein them in than to restrict their ability to acquire firearms (Second Amendment), and their ability to peaceably assemble and speak freely (First Amendment)? This is not an assault on the First or Second Amendment; it is an assault on both.

I spoke about this with my friend Charles Heller, host of the Swap Shop radio program on 1030 KVOI and co-founder of Arizona Citizens Defense League. He agreed, adding, “It’s really no different than Jim Crow, you are simply inserting a new minority to deny an enumerated right. This is called bigotry.”

Some people might ask, “So what’s the big deal? Why don’t they just go someplace else?” That would require one to buy into the mistaken assumption that it will end with the Pima County Fairgrounds. It did not end with the gun shows moving from the Tucson Convention Center to the Pima County Fairgrounds, and it will not end with another move. It needs to end now.

I can remember a time when the Arizona Daily Star had a firearms section on its classified ad page. It dropped that section a number of years ago, which is fine, it is a private entity and may serve whoever it chooses. Pima County is not private, it is a government entity and as such is obligated to provide services to all in our community equally, without bias or bigotry.

If you do not like guns or the people who fancy them, don’t attend gun shows; but don’t use lies to deny those people equal access to government services.

Jonathan Hoffman has lived and worked in Tucson for 40 years. Write to him at

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