Did you buy a firearm? Because then you would have had to show a government-issued photo ID as proof of residence and they would have been required to verify it. They would not have been allowed to ask you for an alternative ZIP Code. You would also have been required to complete an ATF Form 4473 certifying under penalty of law that all of the statements you made on the form were correct.
If the dealer held a federal firearms license, it would not only be grounds for revocation of the license, it would be sufficient cause for federal criminal charges carrying penalties of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if the dealer sold you a firearm without going through the required process.
Dealers are required to keep bound books of every firearm they receive and every firearm they sell. They are also required to keep a record of every firearm they personally own. They must account for every firearm on their annual audit and those audits are far from cursory.
While residents of many states can buy a rifle or shotgun in any state, as long as their state of residence permits it, California is not among them. So the dealer would have been required to ship the gun to a licensed dealer in California and you would have been required to go through the California process to take delivery.
I live in Texas. I can buy a rifle or shotgun in Nevada; complete the paperwork; pass the background check; pay for my purchase; and leave with my new gun. However, if I wished to purchase a handgun at that Nevada retailer, the dealer would have had to ship the gun to a dealer in my area and I would have had to go to my dealer and complete the process in order to take delivery of my new handgun.
This whole regulatory system was put in place in 1938; restrictions were added in 1968, 1986, and 1993.
Other than a firearm, I am a bit curious as to what you purchased. If this was five years ago, there was no requirement to show an ID for anything firearm-related other than perhaps ammunition which you could easily have bought off the Internet.
So you are confessing that in order to purchase something illegal in California, you misrepresented your state of residence. I suppose that means you are one among those people you criticize. Otherwise, why would this even come up?
Fair enough; confession is said to be good for the soul and extremely helpful to prosecutors.
We don’t exploit loopholes; we obey the law.
In Texas, as in many other states, private sales of firearms are permitted. Since there is no way for a private individual to access the background check system, it is impossible for a person to run a background check. This is also true of sellers at gun shows that are not licensed dealers.
Yes, some exploit the “loophole” that the federal government has never in 80 years of federal regulation of firearms transactions ever once said what constitute being “in the business.” But that is hardly their fault. If this is not their full-time occupation or if they do not have a permanent place of business, they cannot get a federal firearms license.
So they are abiding by the law, no matter what you think.
Your error is looking at the rest of the country through California lenses. That may seem to you to be righteous, but that doesn’t make it right.
California enacted universal background checks in 1991. Since that time, it has been on a binge, enacting any new restriction it could imagine. From 1991 to 2018, the homicide rate in California dropped about 65%, according to the FBI.
Texas did not enact universal background checks in 1991 or any other year. In fact, most of Texas’s regulatory changes have been to reduce restrictions. From 1991 to 2018, the homicide rate in Texas dropped 70%.
From January 1, 2014 to December 10, 2019, California has led the nation in the number of mass shootings reported by the Gun Violence Archive. Illinois is the runner-up. Even correcting for population size, California has a higher rate of mass shootings than Texas.
Other than the rifle used in the Gilroy incident, every legally owned gun used in the mass shootings reported by Mother Jones for California has been acquired in California in compliance with California law.
Obeying the law is not a loophole; it is obeying the law. That you might not like the law is immaterial and, frankly, irrelevant.