Every couple of years, the country launches into a full-fledged debate about the ethics of gun control and what we need to do to strike a balance between second amendment rights and public safety. When this happens, there is a lot of talk about a phenomenon known as the “gun show loophole.” Essentially, this refers to how it is possible to purchase guns at a gun show without a background check, but it is considerably more complicated than that. Gun show laws are some of the most misunderstood laws on both sides of a gun control debate. Here’s our attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions about gun show laws…
Gun sales exemptions refer to people, not places or events
The biggest misconception about the gun show loophole is in its very name. The exemption that enables people to purchase guns without a background check doesn’t have anything to do with gun shows, specifically, and doesn’t refer to events or specific places that guns can be sold. Instead, the laws that people are referencing make exemptions between different types of sellers that need to be licensed, and those who don’t.
Essentially, if you are an established business that sells any sort of firearm, then you need to be licensed. However, private citizens who are selling guns don’t need a license, and aren’t required to obtain background checks. These citizens are able to sell guns in a variety of ways, but commonly do so at gun shows, which is how the misnomer came into existence.
Uncertainty surrounds current laws
One reason that there is so much debate around this particular set of laws is because there is a great deal of uncertainty and lack of specifics in the laws themselves. For example, nobody is quite sure how many guns a seller is allowed to sell before they officially must become a licensed gun seller. If somebody is making their primary living selling firearms, then they certainly fall under that law, but there is a lot of grey area for sellers who sell guns part-time, but obtain a significant supplemental income by selling guns online or at shows.