Report exposes loopholes in gun-control laws

Report exposes loopholes in gun-control laws
This assault weapon was offered for private sale at a Dallas gun show, skirting background check requirements.

Gun shows and the lack of uniform gun-control laws provide easy access to guns that can be used for criminal purposes, according to a new report released today from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

Entitled "Inside Shows: What Goes on When Everybody Thinks Nobody's Watching," the comprehensive, 300-page report provides a "you are there" exposure to the issue based on direct observations made at 78 gun shows in 19 states, most of them between 2005 and 2008.

The report features hundreds of photographs and some video that show:

• illegal straw purchases, whereby a surrogate buys from a licensed retailer on behalf of another
• anonymous, undocumented private-party gun sales
• widespread availability of assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles and the parts needed to make untraceable guns
• links between gun shows and the neo-Confederacy movement and neo-Nazism

"Illegal transactions were often conducted entirely out in the open," said Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and a leading researcher on firearm violence who authored the report. "The sense of impunity among sellers and purchasers in these cases was remarkable."

While enforcement programs and regulatory policies are in effect in some states, Wintemute says more needs to be done to prevent both unregulated gun sales and illegal gun sales at gun shows and elsewhere.

"Law enforcement needs to have an expanded, proactive program at gun shows to prevent the illegal sale of guns," said Wintemute. "We also need to update existing laws so that all private-party gun sales, not just those at gun shows, are subject to the same safeguards now in place for gun purchases from licensed dealers."

Current laws require licensed retailers to see a buyer's identification and require buyers to complete a lengthy Firearms Transaction Record, which certifies that buyers are purchasing a gun for themselves and that they are not prohibited from owning a gun. Licensed retailers also must submit this information for a background check and keep a record of the purchase. Unlicensed vendors or individual attendees at gun shows, however, are not required to follow these same federal safeguards.

"Undocumented private party gun sale transactions account for as many as 40 percent of all gun sales," said Wintemute. "They are quick and convenient, and their anonymity attracts those who put privacy at a premium. These same attributes make private-party gun sales a principal option for a felon or other prohibited person."

Gun shows are a leading source of guns used in criminal violence in Northern California, the United States, Mexico and Canada. Legislation to regulate gun shows has been introduced in Congress, and stepped-up enforcement operations are under way. Nonetheless, it has been suggested that efforts to prevent gun should focus elsewhere.

This research was funded with a grant from the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

Provided by University of California

Explore further

First study of gun shows California laws reduce illegal gun purchases

Citation: Report exposes loopholes in gun-control laws (2009, September 3) retrieved 22 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 03, 2009
What would we have to protect us from our government if they don't let us buy illegal weapons? I'm so confused... How will the drug dealers safely sell the drugs the DEA seizes without gun shows? Our military is spending 5K per second in Iraq, but I can't have a machine gun? That's like your drunk dad telling you not to drink....

Sep 04, 2009
The rise of north american militias bent on commerce and market reform will start civil wars for national identity. The US has a lot of dissonance to qwell.

Sep 05, 2009
"The University of Michigan and University of Maryland study also shows that tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearms-related deaths.

'We believe that this analysis makes an important contribution to understanding the influence of gun shows, the regulation of which is arguably the most active area of federal, state, and local firearms policy,' said Brian Jacob, a professor at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

'To our knowledge, this is the first study that directly examines the impact of gun shows on gun-related deaths.'"

This story was posted on this website 8 September 2008. UC Davis Violence Prevention apparently ignores studies that disagree with its political agenda. It also falls into the trap of attempting to quantify illegal activity.

There is handgun violence in the UK and Japan. It's almost impossible for a private citizen to purchase a handgun in either country. Are the criminals in the UK and Japan buying at US gun shows? Not bloody likely. I sincerely hope our tax dollars were not used to underwrite UC Davis' political pandering.

Sep 05, 2009
Let's see. A 'study' funded by 3 activist foundations, that comports to the agenda of those foundations, run by a politically activist university that shares the agendas of those foundations, that claims to find that a politically sensitive subject should be resolved in the direction those politically active groups are calling for.

This is

This has the same authority as does the "science" coming out of the Discovery Institute.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more