2009-10-16 / Editorial/Opinion

Death On Our Streets Thanks To Gun Show Sales

The findings of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has linked 30 percent of the guns used in New York City shootings to gun shows in other states. Earlier reports from the same agency as well as from the New York City Police Department show that the great majority of guns used in crimes here come from Virginia, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Ohio and Florida, states with lax gun laws. A large number of those guns eventually show up on Rockaway streets or in our public housing projects. Many of them come from gun shows in those states, where individual sellers have no requirement either to check a buyer's background or to file paperwork with the federal agency recording the sale. That gun show loophole exists because Congress was convinced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that such show sales were made not by professional gun dealers, but by individuals who wanted to sell personal or antique weapons only. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent investigators to gun shows in some of those states and blew that lie out of the water. The investigators found professional dealers with dozens of weapons to sell, not individual sellers looking to get rid of a gun or two outside the usual rules. In one particular egregious case, the investigator asked if he had to go through a background check. The vendor told him he did not. The investigator then said, "Good, because I probably could not pass the check anyway." The vendor sold him a semiautomatic .380 caliber weapon for $399. It is clear, at least to us, that our federal representatives, Anthony Weiner and Greg Meeks, have dropped the ball. Something must be done to close the gun show loophole, and it has to be done quickly before even more young people die on Rockaway streets.

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