WASHINGTON - People wouldn’t be able to buy firearms at gun shows unless they first undergo background checks under legislation Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced today.
The New Jersey Democrat introduced a similar bill in 1999. The Senate approved it by one vote. But the measure subsequently died.
The current bill to close the “gun show loophole” is co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and eight other Democratic senators, including former presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts, have also signed on.
The bill was discussed at a Capitol Hill news conference attended by law enforcement officials, survivors of Virginia Tech shooting victims, and advocates such as Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“It defies common sense that a loophole in federal law lets unlicensed dealers sell firearms at gun shows without running a background check on the buyer. Our legislation would require background checks for every gun purchased at every gun show across America,” Lautenberg said in a statement.
A 1993 federal law requires people seeking to buy firearms at gun shops and other licensed businesses such as pawnshops to undergo background checks. But a loophole allows them to buy guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows, Lautenberg’s office said.
Supporters say that loophole allows convicted felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and others who would fail the background checks to still purchase firearms.