Guns and Youth - Gun Control Legislation
background firearm requires law
School shootings have prompted gun control debates in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Much of the
proposed legislation has been aimed at closing the gun show loophole in the Brady Law, which allows the sale of firearms at gun shows without background checks. According to James Jacobs, the Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University, "While gun shows probably account for only a very small fraction (perhaps 2%) of total U.S. gun sales, they are a convenient venue for transferring guns from law-abiding owners to criminals, and vice versa" ("Gun Shows and Gun Controls," in Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America, edited by Bernard E. Harcourt, New York: New York University Press, 2003). Unlicensed individuals can sell arms to whomever they choose at these shows. A December 13, 2001, article in USA Today reported that terrorists have gone to gun shows to obtain weapons. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that from 1996 to 1998, the second leading source of guns recovered in illegal gun trafficking investigations were gun shows. More than 4,000 gun shows are held annually in the United States, accounting for 26,000 illegal firearms.
Legislation to close the gun show loophole has been introduced in Congress repeatedly without result. Similar inaction by state legislatures prompted voters in Colorado and Oregon to pass ballot initiatives aimed at closing the gun show loophole. On November 7, 2000, about 70% of voters in Colorado passed Amendment 22, which requires background checks before any firearm transfer. Amendment 22 also requires a record of all firearm transfers once a background check is completed, and it mandates that gun show promoters post a notice stating the requirement for a background check.
Sixty-two percent of Oregon voters approved Measure Five, which requires a criminal background check before a gun can be purchased at a gun show. The measure also allows for private citizens to order background checks for firearm purchases voluntarily, even if not required by law, and it requires that background records be kept for five years for use in criminal investigations.
A provision that closed the gun show loophole in New York State became law on August 9, 2000. Intentional failure to comply by a gun show operator carries a fine of up to $10,000. The law also requires firearms retailers to include a child safety locking device with every firearm purchased, to post notices regarding the safe storage of guns, and to include gun safety information with the purchase of any firearm.