What is the ‘gun show loophole’?

May 8, 2013

Lawyer Dale Roberts and columnist David Rosman joined KBIA on Intersection this week
Lawyer Dale Roberts and columnist David Rosman joined KBIA on Intersection this week
Credit KBIA

  Recently, federal legislation that would have expanded background checks on gun purchasers and put a cap on magazine capacity, among other measures, failed in the Senate.

The failed bill is just one part of a long-running debate on gun control, exacerbated by recent gun violence in Colorado and Connecticut.  According to Missouri law, individuals do not have to perform background checks on the people who buy from them. “Selling guns to one person so another can use or own it,” has been a long-standing issue, said Missourian columnist David Rosman on this week’s taping of Intersection

“I lived in Colorado in 1999 during the Columbine shootings,” said Rosman. “I was working with the parents from those shootings to close the gun show loophole in Colorado. That other person [who ultimately receives the firearm] may have a felony, may not, for other reasons may not be able to own a weapon.”

Firearms lawyer Dale Roberts also appeared on the show. He pointed out that individuals are barred, in fact, from even using the FBI’s background check database. Licensed dealers are required to by law to perform background checks.

“In a lot of cases,” Rosman said, “at gunshows, individuals can sell weapons. And as an individual, not a licensed dealer, you don’t have to check background. The problem is, and one of the very good arguments is, how do I do that if I’m selling a firearm out of my home? Do I have to do a background check on the individual now? ...That’s part of the argument, and a very legitimate part.”

According to CNN, 20 percent of firearm sales are between two individuals rather than through a licensed dealer. Some people call this a loophole because it’s an easy way for an individual to get a weapon who might not be able to pass a background check. Another way a purchaser might get around the background check is to have another person purchase the firearm for him. This method is called a “strawman purchase,” Roberts said.

The only regulation on gun sales between individuals is that a gun owner cannot knowingly sell to someone who is barred from having one, according to Missouri law.

“A while back,” said Roberts, “a friend said, ‘I wanna buy a gun from you. It’s for a cousin, he’s got a felony. Roberts said his response was, “No, I’m not going to sell it to you... I don’t want any part of that.”

Roberts and Rosman spoke with KBIA on Intersection earlier this week. View the program and follow us on Twitter.

Also check out the latest episode of KBIA’s CoMo Explained on the website or the iTunes Store. This week, hosts Scott Pham and Ryan Famuliner explains how concealed carry license got the DMV into hot water with the Missouri legislature.

Catch Intersection on KBIA every Monday at 2 p.m. to hear experts discuss Mid-Missouri issues.