It’s easy to understand how the average person could come to believe that there is such a thing as a “gun show loophole.” That’s all they hear from the media and from politicians eager to exploit hot button issues.
In fact, there is no “gun show loophole.” Much like the “assault weapons” myth, it is a lie propagated by anti-gun extremist groups. True military assault weapons have been under strict government control since 1934. The guns being referred to as assault weapons are normal semi-automatic rifles differing only cosmetically from commonly used hunting rifles.
Likewise, the vast majority of firearms sold at gun shows are sold by federally licensed dealers who are required to conduct background checks. While private sales do occur at gun shows, they are subject to the same state and federal laws that govern all other private sales of guns.
If anything, guns sold at gun shows are the least likely to wind up being used in crimes. A 2001 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on Firearm Use by Offenders shows that less than 1 percent of guns used in crimes come from gun shows while more than 8 percent come from retail stores. (http://bjs.gov/content/pub/press/fuopr.cfm)
The largest gun shows in our state are run by The Washington Arms Collectors. Sale and possession of firearms at WAC shows are restricted to members, all of whom undergo background checks.
Can we do better? Sure! The NICS data base is woefully inadequate and needs to be updated (www.fixnics.org ). Also, current laws need to be enforced. According to the FBI, the number of felons and fugitive denied a firearm in 2010 was 48,321 yet the number of prosecutions was just 44.
We need to stop focusing on quick fixes that will accomplish nothing and concentrate on real solutions.
Charles Ely -- Bremerton