Anything Goes Gun Shows in Virginia

 Anything Goes Guns Shows in Virginia

Despite pleas from parents of Virginia Tech shooting victims and Governor Kaine, the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted to retain a loophole allowing unlicensed firearms sales at gun shows without instant background checks of purchasers. The Republican majority prevailed in party-line voting.

Between 22 and 35 percent of Virginia firearms sales are by unlicensed sellers in private transactions or at gun shows, say police. Licensed dealers must conduct instant checks at gun shows but unlicensed sellers are exempt.

The state’s instant background checks are designed to prevent sales to felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill and those ordered by courts to undergo mental health treatment. The last requirement was added after 32 students and faculty members were shot at Virginia Tech last year.

A Virginia Senate committee will consider a similar bill this week.

Image generated by Mike Licht.


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14 Responses to “Anything Goes Gun Shows in Virginia”

  1. ChrisChambers Says:

    Misguided rednecks. Perhaps they felt these parents were just Northern Va. liberals whose kids deserved to get killed b/c they themselves weren’t armed? You can argue with these people. After all, it was they who plunged the nation into a bloody civil war after they lost an election…merely b/c they wanted to keep black people as pets, along with their guns…

  2. Megan Says:

    It made me so upset to hear that the bill was killed in committee. I went to a gun show a couple of months ago, and NOBODY was running background checks. This wasn’t “guy in the parking lot selling a gun.” This was “guy with 300+ guns for sale will take your money and you’ll walk away, no questions asked.” These gun dealers call themselves collectors (and don’t have licenses) so they don’t have to do any checks. There were clearly some shady characters at the gun show, too. I’m all for the Second Amendment, but do we need to make it SO EASY for bad guys to get guns?

    Calling them rednecks isn’t going to help, though. That just perpetuates a liberal-vs-conservative, antigun-vs.-pro-gun situation. And it’s really not black and white like that. The gun shows are a gray area that need to be taken care of.

  3. Mike Licht Says:

    If you think Gun Shows are a just a coupla ol’ boys tradin’ squirrel guns, look at Arms Show Industry sites like these:

    Virginia show calendar — (scroll down)

    Hell; guess I better post on this again.

  4. Gun Show Show-and-Tell « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] week the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted to retain a loophole allowing unlicensed firearms sales at gun shows without instant background checks of purchasers. […]

  5. Herb Siewert Says:

    Whoa! I have been a vendor at many Gun Shows in Virginia ( I sell Knives and Pellet guns ) and what I have seen are a lot of “Good Ol’ Boys” selling squirl guns, lots on antique sales, these are relics and curios, mostly single shot, old difficult to use guns. You may see some guys with several revolvers that sell them as personal guns, but LOOK at what they are selling, Civil War hand guns, many that require caps to fire, and are loaded with gunpowers and shot. Not the new semi autos that you are all concerned about, those weapons are available, but I have only seen those sold with COMPETE paperwork and background checks. That has been my expirence, so I suggest you all educate yourselves before you go off the deep end. Thanks for the time….

  6. Mike Licht Says:

    Herb: VA State Police say that 22 percent to 35 percent of people who sell guns at VA gun shows are unlicensed and sell firearms without background checks. It is in this post. Please don’t question the veracity of our law enforcement officers.

  7. Leona Says:

    Mike: I think Herb was responding the the implied criticsm of gun shows. It isn’t impugning the veracity of VA State Police as the quote says:
    “…are by unlicensed sellers in private transactions or at gun shows…”

  8. Mike Licht Says:

    Leona: The picture Herb paints of gun shows does not conform to the situation on the ground, as established by police officers, and the pretense that it does endangers the public and the valuable pastime of the honest hobbyists Herb describes. Under the present system self-proclaimed collectors can go to different Virginia gun shows each weekend, cheat on the gun laws and tax laws, and make a nice profit. The presumed self-regulation of gun shows is not working and needs to be changed.

  9. Eric E Says:

    There is a fundamental flaw to the whole argument. That is, there is no “loophole” through which illegal activity is somehow conducted that is not identical to all other flea markets of different sorts. A “gun show” is a flea market with a theme. Viewed this way, a person could indeed (and I expect many do) make a business of buying and selling at flea markets (of all sorts) and not reporting the income. That’s not the real issue here, is it?

    The supposed “loophole” is that someone can sell their own gun, without government oversight or approval. That is what tick’s off the MoveOn and HCI crowd, right?

    But there’s no need for a law (why is the reaction always “there ought’a be a law?”). All that’s necessary is a mechanism by which a non-dealer COULD call in a NCIC check for a buyer who was not already known to said seller. The gun-guy community is in many ways like any other community of interest in a geological area – we mostly know each other. For the few we don’t know, let us call in and check…

    But we can’t. Only licensed dealers can. Now, why do you suppose that is?

    I can sell my machete without a check, and no one thinks twice about it. I can even sell a car or a welding rig (complete with oxy-acetylene) or an number of other really potentially dangerous devices. But the transfer of a gun freaks people out.

    Anyway, there is no need to mandate anything. All us honest gun guys would most commonly call in a sale (if there were a way) to do a check on the buyer, just to cover ourselves… and because we’re fine upstanding citizens and all. Conversely, if I’m a felon, I’m not going to buy or sell at a gun show, with 200 armed people around me, and a building crawling with cops (some in plain clothes)… Moreover, I’m not going to call in the sale, no matter.

    The issue is not gun shows, and it’s not tax evasion… not really. The issue is perceptual and the issue is that many people are simply afraid of the idea that their neighbor might be armed (and not themselves have to tolerate government oversight for it). For myself, I trust my neighbor more than I trust most politicians. If the issue d’jour is background checks at shows, there’s no legislation necessary. Just let the average Joe trying to sell a few of his rifles call in and check on his buyers.

    As it stands, that is actually prohibited in every state of which I’m aware.

  10. Mike Licht Says:

    Eric: You mention cars. Is Virginia the only state that doesn’t register vehicle title transfers? No. So you advocate similar registration for firearms? Didn’t think so.

    In most jurisdictions, if you sell more than three or four cars a year, you get a visit from the state Motor Vehicle and Tax authorities, who urge you to register as the car dealer you obviously are or pay a whopping fine. There is no similar mechanism for Virginia gun shows.

    You mention flea markets? In most jurisdictions sales tax certificates and deposits are required for dealers who vend more than occasionally. Police or tax authorities keep track of this and violators face substantial fines and are dunned for back taxes. If Virginia doesn’t do this, state officials there are dumber than most, and the commonwealth’s tax-paying merchants should demand their removal. If there are sales tax investigations at Virginia gun shows, sales-tax evaders should also be required to obtain federal gun dealer registration — they would then be required to obtain background-checks before sales.

    You claim there is no need for a law requiring background checks on sales by unregistered dealers because “everybody knows everybody” at gun shows. Okay, how’s this: if a firearm purchased at a Virginia gun show is used in a crime, everybody at that gun show is arrested as a party to the crime and, as members of a criminal conspiracy (since “everybody knows everybody”), their homes, vehicles and other property is seized. Does that work for you?

  11. TR Roberts Says:

    I am a convicted felon because in 2003, I wrote a letter to my adversary in the bankruptcy court in Maryland as a joke. The judge turned the letter over to the FBI. I was tried and convicted of a felony because the state prosecutor and my attorney could not find a misdometer that applied. I’m 74 and retired so I doesn’t affect my ability to gain employment. My family is upset. Should I be able to buy a gun at a show in Virgina? Thanks

  12. TR Roberts Says:

    Now I want a revolver. I used to hate guns in the sixties but then I changed teams. Not all felons are bad people. My wife knows about the conviction but my children have not been told. When the FBI came to my house, I had no idea what they wanted. Should I be allowed to buy a hand gun?.

  13. Mike Licht Says:

    TR Roberts:

    I am the only one on my block who is not a lawyer, but you seem to be presenting a fictional case here. If you were convicted of a felony in Virginia, you cannot even vote, and have lost other rights as well. Petition the Governor for restoration of rights — contact the Virginia ACLU (really).

    If you had presented a threat using the mail such that your “prank” was handled by Postal Inspectors and/or the FBI (a nice humorous “joke” false bomb or “joke” false anthrax threat — what a scream!), I believe it should not be a matter for a “state prosecutor” but for the Federal Courts — the U.S. Mail is inherently interstate. If you were indeed convicted, it was not because of the FBI, the other guy’s smart lawyer, your dumb lawyer, or anyone else. You were convicted in court due to your intemperate actions.

    If you owned a pistol instead of a postage stamp, would you have used that against your adversary as a “joke,” too?

    Your family is upset? They should be. Get help.

  14. Mike Licht Says:

    Now I want a revolver. I used to hate guns in the sixties but then I changed teams. Not all felons are bad people. My wife knows about the conviction but my children have not been told. When the FBI came to my house, I had no idea what they wanted. Should I be allowed to buy a hand gun?.

    Mr. Roberts, sir? Does your wife know you are using the computer?

    Either way, please don’t.

    Thank you.

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