Working to Close the Nation's Gun Show Loophole
Senator Lautenberg at a press conference introducing legislation to close the "gun show loophole." He was joined at the event by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Sue Else, President of National Network to End Domestic Violence; and victims and family members of the Virginia Tech tragedy. The victims included Omar Samaha, the brother of Reema Samaha, who was shot and killed at Virginia Tech; and Colin Goddard, who was shot and injured in his classroom at Virginia Tech. The Senators' bill would close the loophole by requiring background checks on sales at gun shows. (April 21, 2009)
At thousands of gun shows every year, people are able to purchase firearms without going through a background check. Under the federal Brady Act, Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) are required to check the purchaser’s background with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before transferring any firearm.
However, a person does not need a federal firearms license—and the Brady Act does not apply—if the person is not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms pursuant to federal law. These non-licensees make up one quarter or more of the sellers of firearms at gun shows. Consequently, felons, the severely mentally ill and other prohibited persons who want to avoid Brady Act checks and records of their purchases are able to buy firearms at gun shows.
On April 21, 2009, Senator Lautenberg introduced the Gun Show Background Check Act of 2009 to close this loophole in the nation's federal gun laws. The bill is virtually identical to the Lautenberg amendment passed by the Senate in the 106th Congress as part of the Juvenile Justice bill. The legislation would take several steps to make gun show transactions safer for all Americans:
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