Search
  • Steve Sorensen

What Is a Gun Show?


This week's column is titled "What Is a Gun Show?" Gun shows often get a bad rap in the mainstream press. No, wait... strike that word "often." Replace it with "always." If you listen to what anti-gunners say, you'd think gun shows are magnets for unscrupulous gun dealers, hubs of illegal activity, and the marketplace of choice for people who cannot buy weapons legally. Nothing can be further from the truth. Gun shows are subject to every law, on both the state and federal levels. So there is no such thing as a "gun show loophole."


Anti-gun people talk relentlessly about a gun show loophole, but not one has ever defined it because they can't. It doesn't exist. Lawmakers have not somehow — deliberately or inadvertently — exempted gun shows from any law that governs firearms transactions at legitimately licensed dealers in their brick-and-mortar stores. The laws that regulate gun sales, whether at Cabelas or at Sparky's Bait Shop & Gun Emporium, are the same laws that regulate gun sales at gun shows.


To repeat — no gun show loophole exists. None. Yet the term "loophole" persists. When you hear someone use it, ask some questions. What about the church parking lot loophole? What about the tavern loophole? Is there a sportsman's club loophole? Is there a funeral loophole? No gun sale that is illegal in a sporting goods store is legal at a gun show, or any of these places where like-minded people gather. It is possible for you to meet a felon in the parking lot outside a gun show (or after granddad's funeral), and sell one of granddad's guns to him, but that's not a loophole. It violates a number of laws, and you can get into deep legal trouble if you even try that.


Back to this week's column, "What Is a Gun Show?" Most people don't know, so spread the word. The folks who attend gun shows aren't much different from the folks that attend a quilt show, or a home improvement show. The difference is that a gun show is tightly regulated by state and federal law.


To access more of my writing on hunting topics, go to the home page of my blog, Mission: Hunter.