President Clinton Supports Closing "Gun Show Loophole"
By Ed Somers
In his weekly radio address on February 6, President Clinton called for action to ensure that all purchasers of firearms are subject to background checks and to stop the illegal sale of firearms at gun shows.
The issue of gun show regulation has been one of the major areas of concern raised by The U.S. Conference of Mayors through its Gun Violence Task Force.
It is estimated that 4,442 gun shows were held in 1998. There exists a loophole in federal law which allows non-licensed gun show participants to evade federal requirements that licensed gun dealers must comply with (identification checks, criminal background checks and the Brady waiting period, and record keeping requirements including multiple purchase forms).
The President's action came after he directed the Secretary of the Treasury and Attorney General to recommend what should be done to correct this loophole. Following the submission of written comments from a wide array of interested parties, including strong support from the Conference, the Administration released its report entitled, "Gun Shows: Brady Checks and Crime Gun Traces" which contains detailed recommendations for legislative and administrative changes to close the loophole.
In commenting on the report, the President said, "America cannot allow its gun shows to become illegal arms bazaars, where lawbreakers shop side-by-side with the law-abiding... The gun lobby may not want to hear this, but clearly it's the right thing to do."
This sentiment was echoed in the letter submitted by Conference President Mayor Deedee Corradini of Salt Lake City and Gun Violence Task Force Chair Mayor Edward Rendell of Philadelphia on December 8, 1998 which said, "The U.S. Conference of Mayors believes that this loophole must be closed, and that a mechanism be established to ensure that every person selling a weapon on the secondary market, either at a "gun show" or any other venue, comply with all federal statutory and regulatory requirements including age-sensitive identification checks and criminal background checks."
The specific recommendations contained in the Administration's report include:
Legislation is expected to be introduced by Rep. Rod Blagojevich (IL) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) to help implement the findings of the report.