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Can You Buy Guns At A Gun Show



Gun show loophole is a political term in the United States referring to the sale of firearms by private sellers, including those done at gun shows, that do not require the seller to conduct a federal background check of the buyer.This is also called the private sale exemption.[1][2] Under federal law, any person may sell a firearm to a federally unlicensed resident of the state where they reside, as long as they do not know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.[3]




can you buy guns at a gun show



Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws that require background checks for some or all private sales, including sales at gun shows. In some of these states, such non-commercial sales also must be facilitated through a federally licensed dealer, who performs the background check and records the sale. In other states, gun buyers must first obtain a license or permit from the state, which performs a background check before issuing the license (thus typically not requiring a duplicative background check from a gun dealer).[7]


Federal "gun show loophole" bills were introduced in seven consecutive Congresses: two in 2001,[17][18] two in 2004,[19][20] one in 2005,[21] one in 2007,[22] two in 2009,[23][24] two in 2011,[25][26] and one in 2013.[27] Specifically, seven gun show "loophole" bills were introduced in the U.S. House and four in the Senate between 2001 and 2013. None passed. In May 2015 Carolyn Maloney introduced H.R.2380, also referred to as the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015. As of June 26 it has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.[28][29] In March 2017, representative Maloney also introduced H.R.1612, referred to as the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2017. In January 2019 she sponsored H.R.820 - Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2019.[30][31]


A number of states have background check requirements beyond federal law. Some states require universal background checks at the point of sale for all transfers, including purchases from unlicensed sellers. Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Carolina laws in this regard are limited to handguns. Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey require any firearm purchaser to obtain a permit. (Illinois formerly required the permit to be verified with the state police only at gun shows, but in 2013 the law was changed to require verification for all private sales.[32]) Vermont passed new gun control laws in 2018, one of which requires background checks for private sales.[33] Nevada's revised law went into effect in 2020.[34] Virginia also started requiring background checks in 2020.[35][36]


In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA), which relaxed certain controls in the Gun Control Act and permitted licensed firearm dealers to conduct business at gun shows.[n 1] Specifically, FOPA made it legal for FFL holders to make private sales, provided the firearm was transferred to the licensee's personal collection at least one year prior to the sale. Hence, when a personal firearm is sold by an FFL holder, no background check or Form 4473 is required by federal law. According to the ATF, FFL holders are required to keep a record of such sales in a bound book.[47][48] The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) said the stated purpose of FOPA was to ensure the GCA did not "place any undue or unnecessary federal restrictions or burdens on law-abiding citizens, but it opened many loopholes through which illegal gun traffickers can slip." The scope of those who "engage in the business" of dealing in firearms (and are therefore required to have a license) was narrowed to include only those who devote "time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms." FOPA excluded those who buy and sell firearms to "enhance a personal collection" or for a "hobby," or who "sell all or part of a personal collection." According to the USDOJ, this new definition made it difficult for them to identify offenders who could claim they were operating as "hobbyists" trading firearms from their personal collection.[49][50][n 2] Efforts to reverse a key feature of FOPA by requiring criminal background checks and purchase records on private sales at gun shows were unsuccessful.[52][53] Those who sold only at gun shows and wanted to obtain an FFL, which would allow them to conduct background checks, were prohibited from doing so through question 18a on the ATF Form 7 (Application for Federal Firearms License).[54] The April 2019 revision of the Form 7 removed this restriction,[55] allowing them to obtain licenses.


Firearm tracing starts at the manufacturer or importer and typically ends at the first private sale regardless if the private seller later sells to an FFL or uses an FFL for background checks.[57] Analyzing data from a report released in 1997 by the National Institute of Justice, fewer than 2% of convicted criminals bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show. About 12% purchased their firearm from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80% bought from family, friends, or an illegal source.[58] An additional study performed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, published in January 2019, found that fewer than 1% of criminals obtained a firearm at a gun show (0.8%).[59]


According to a 1999 report by the ATF, legal private party transactions contribute to illegal activities, such as arms trafficking, purchases of firearms by prohibited buyers, and straw purchases.[60] Anyone selling a firearm is legally prohibited from selling it to anyone the seller knows or has reasonable cause to believe is prohibited from owning a firearm. FFL holders, in general, can only transfer firearms to a non-licensed individual if that individual resides in the state where the FFL holder is licensed to do business, and only at that place of business or a gun show in their state.[49][43][44]


On November 6, 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum for the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General expressing concern about sellers at gun shows not being required to run background checks on potential buyers.[63] He called this absence a "loophole" and said that it made gun shows prime targets for criminals and gun traffickers. He requested recommendations on what actions the administration should take, including legislation.[49][63]


During his campaign and presidency, President George W. Bush endorsed the idea of background checks at gun shows. Bush's position was that the gun show loophole should be closed by federal legislation since the gun show loophole was created by previous federal legislation.[64][65][66] President Bush ordered an investigation by the U.S. Departments of Health, Education, and Justice in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in order to make recommendations on ways the federal government can prevent such tragedies. On January 8, 2008 he signed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA) into law.[67] Goals and objectives that the NIAA sought to address included:


The gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended, to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.[68]


At the beginning of 2013, President Barack Obama outlined proposals regarding new gun control legislation asking Congress to close the gun show loophole by requiring background checks for all firearm sales.[69][70][71] Closing the gun show loophole became part of a larger push for universal background checks to close "federal loopholes on such checks at gun shows and other private sales."[72]


The fundamental flaw in the gun show loophole proposal is its failure to address the great majority of private-party sales, which occur at other locations and increasingly over the Internet at sites where any non-prohibited person can list firearms for sale and buyers can search for private-party sellers.[84]


In 1999, Dave Kopel, attorney and gun rights advocate for the NRA, said: "gun shows are no 'loophole' in the federal laws," and that singling out gun shows was "the first step toward abolishing all privacy regarding firearms and implementing universal gun registration."[87] In January 2000, Kopel said that no proposed federal law would have made any difference at Columbine since the adults who supplied the weapons were legal purchasers.[88]


Criticisms of the "gun show loophole" imply that federal regulations allow otherwise prohibited retail purchases ("primary market sales") of firearms at gun shows. This implication is false. The real criticism is leveled at secondary market sales by private citizens.[89]


In 2013, the NRA said that a universal background check system for gun buyers is both impracticable and unnecessary, but an effective instant check system that includes records of persons adjudicated mentally ill would prevent potentially dangerous people from getting their hands on firearms.[91] The group argues that only 10 percent of firearms are purchased via private sellers. They also dispute the idea that the current law amounts to a gun-show loophole, pointing out that many of the people selling at gun shows are federally licensed dealers.[92] The group has stated in the past that: gun control supporters' objectives are to reduce gun sales and register guns, and that there is no "loophole," but legal commerce under the status quo (like book fairs or car shows).[51][93]


In 2016, a study published in The Lancet reported that state laws only requiring background checks or permits for gun sales at gun shows were associated with higher rates of gun-related deaths. The same study also found that state laws that required background checks for all gun sales were strongly associated with lower rates of gun-related deaths.[94] Also that year Gabriel J. Chin, professor at UC Davis School of Law, stated that since there are no clear stipulations for the number of firearms sold before someone is required to be federally licensed and that since gun shows are usually held on weekends, "there is room for someone to claim 'this is a hobby or part of my collection' when it is also a substantial business."[95] 041b061a72


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