I do not intend for this piece to be a pathway into a debate on gun control or any of the applicable laws pertaining firearms sales. I am simply attempting to clarify the actual legal framework involved in a firearms sale. This piece is in response to a political commercial currently running on several of the cable news channels.
The commercial shows snippets of a terrorist asserting that people can simply walk into a gun show and buy fully automatic weapons without any sort of background check. The commercial is sponsored by a group of mayors, and it urges people to contact their congressmen concerning closing the so called gun show loophole.
The simple truth is that those claims are absolutely and totally false. Licensed firearms dealers must follow the exact same rules for selling a firearm at a gun show as they must follow when selling a firearm from their place of business. This is required by federal law, and such sales are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives more commonly known as the ATF. Additionally, state laws regulating the sale of firearms must be followed at a gun show just as they are at a retail firearms shop.
Furthermore, fully automatic and select-fire firearms are Class III items, and as such, they are even more stringently regulated by the federal government and other applicable state laws. In order to purchase a Class III item, a person must be approved by the ATF prior to buying the item, and each item purchased requires specific approval. Part of that approval process includes either the signature of the chief law enforcement officer of the locality where the purchaser resides or the establishment of a legal trust. The process is very time consuming, and each item also incurs an additional $200.00 federal tax. The purchase process of a Class III item is measured in months and not minutes. Private parties may not sell Class III items directly to another party. The transaction must go through a dealer approved by the federal government to handle Class III items.
The notion that someone can walk into a gun show and simply buy a fully automatic weapon is ludicrous to the point that the person espousing such is either ignorant on the law and is merely parroting remarks made by others, or the person is knowingly and intentionally perpetuating a lie.
Sales between private parties at gun shows are governed by the same state laws and applicable federal laws that apply to a private party transaction elsewhere in the respective state.
The gun show loophole does not exist.
Again, this piece was not intended as a pathway to a debate on gun control. Its intent is to provide accurate information. This piece is not an argument in favor of or against control measures.