For more than the past year, the gun show loophole has been a popular state law issue. In most states, background checks are required to purchase firearms – except for at gun shows. Criminals not purchasing firearms at gun shows is a common argument against screenings at these events, but is such a statement even accurate?
New York is one state that requires background checks to be performed on all buyers at gun shows; but, rather than screening attendees prior to the event, gun shows expect the sellers to conduct short background checks on all buyers via a computer or telephone call. According to the BuffaloNews.com, however, undercover investigators went to a handful of gun shows in New York state to purchase semiautomatic rifles – and several dealers were found to not be not conducting background checks. In New York, guns should not be sold to those with domestic violence charges, mental illness histories, or other criminal charges, and the investigators were, in fact, open about their criminal charges when speaking with sellers. As a result, 10 dealers are being charged for illegal gun sales, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants to prosecute the operators, as well.
In New York, not performing background checks on buyers at gun shows is a misdemeanor, but Schneiderman wants to strengthen the penalties in order to deter both dealers and sellers. Gun control groups are in support of Schneiderman’s efforts. Jackie Hilly, executive director of the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, told the press:
“When gun sellers don’t follow the law, anyone can buy a gun at a gun show, including terrorists, convicted criminals or the mentally ill, and the result is that no one is safe from the threat of gun violence.”
What are your views on increasing the severity of charges for not performing background checks at gun shows? Should background checks be the responsibility of a seller, or should the operators share some of the blame?