8
Closing the Gun Show and
Secondary Market Loophole

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had gone to the Tanner gun show on Saturday and they took me back with them on Sunday. While we were walking around, Eric and Dylan kept asking sellers if they were private or licensed. They wanted to buy their guns from someone who was private and not licensed because there would be no paperwork or background check. It was too easy. I wish it had been more difficult. I wouldn't have helped them buy the guns if I had faced a background check. —Robyn Anderson, testimony to the House Judiciary Committee regarding the massacre at Columbine, January 27, 2000

Neither the Brady Law nor any other federal law regulates gun sales, loans, gifts, or barters that take place between private individuals, if neither of them is a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). 1 In addition, if FFLs transfer guns from their “personal collections,” they do not have to initiate background checks on their purchasers. These omissions constitute a huge gap in the Brady Law because the overwhelming majority of criminals obtain their firearms in the secondary market, including at gun shows. 2

In 1998, there were 4,442 gun shows* in the United States, usually held in arenas, civic centers, fairgrounds, or armories. A gun show is typically

____________________
*
The definition of a gun show for policy-making purposes is important. If gun shows were simply regulated by name, promoters could avoid the regulation by calling their shows “flea markets.” The Gun Show Accountability Act (GSAA) defines gun shows as any “event (a) at which 50 or more firearms are offered or exhibited for sale, transfer, or exchange, if one or more of the firearms has been shipped or transported in, or otherwise affects, interstate or foreign commerce and (b) at which two or more persons are offering or exhibiting one or more firearms for sale, transfer, or exchange.” The Hatch/Craig bill defines gun shows more narrowly so that if there are less then 10 exhibitors (undefined), the GSAA would not apply. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a compromise bill (S. 890), the Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act, into the 107th Congress. Their bill regulates events at which more than 75 guns are offered for sale, except where guns are part of a personal collection.

-125-

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Can Gun Control Work?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xv
  • I - Essential Background 1
  • 1 - Dissecting the Gun Problem 3
  • 2 - Existing Gun Controls 19
  • 3 - Impediments to More Gun Controls 37
  • II - America's Dominant Gun Control Paradigm 59
  • 4 - The Politics of the Brady Law 61
  • 5 - What the Brady Law Says 77
  • 6 - Holes in the Brady Law 99
  • 7 - Evaluating the Brady Law 111
  • III - Policy Options for the Future 123
  • 8 - Closing the Gun Show and Secondary Market Loophole 125
  • 9 - Comprehensive Licensing and Registration 137
  • 10 - Prohibition and Disarmament 153
  • 11 - Other Gun Control Strategies 171
  • 12 - Creating Gun-Free Public Spaces 197
  • 13 - Conclusion: The “Problem” Reconsidered 213
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 263
  • Index 279
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