2010-04-30 / Community

Campaign Launched To Close Gun Show Loophole

The bi-partisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced the launch of a new national campaign to close the Gun Show Loophole. The Gun Show Loophole is a gap in federal law that enables criminals to buy guns at gun shows without undergoing a background check.

“Today marks the 11th anniversary of the tragic shootings at Columbine High School,” said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Last Friday was the three year anniversary of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Each day, 35 people in America are murdered with guns – the equivalent of a Virginia Tech massacre every single day.

Yet while criminals are busy evading critical background checks at gun shows, Congress continues to turn a blind eye to this glaring gap in our nation’s gun laws.

This new national campaign will deliver a clear message to Washington: it’s time to close the Gun Show Loophole once and for all.” “Closing the Gun Show Loophole has always been one of the coalition’s highest priorities,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “Right now, anyone, including felons and people with serious mental health histories, can buy a gun from a private seller at a gun show without a background check. In turn, guns purchased at gun shows flood the streets of our cities and are recovered in murders, assaults, and other violent crimes. That’s why America’s mayors are launching this campaign today – to protect our cities from illegal guns and the criminals who carry them.”

Television advertisements will appear on the national cable networks of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, as well in local markets across five states: Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. The TV ads have begun. They are an appeal to the United States Senate to act on closing the Gun Show Loophole. Currently, S.843 and H.R.2324, bills that close the gun show loophole, are pending in the U.S. Congress. In particular, key Senators who could be instrumental in advancing legislation to close the Loophole are being asked to take a stand. Local broadcast channels will air advertisements urging Senator Mark Udall in Colorado, Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in Maine, Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Senator George Voinovich in Ohio, and Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner in Virginia to close the Loophole. The TV ads can be viewed on http://www.-closetheloophole. org/ads Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching this appeal for Senators to take action on the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting.

All four guns used in the Columbine shootings were bought from private sellers at gun shows. In the nearly 10 years since 70 percent of Coloradans voted to close the Gun Show Loophole by state referendum in 2000, federal legislation to close the Loophole has failed to pass in the United States Congress.

“The campaign to close the Gun Show Loophole is not about partisan politics. It’s about protecting public safety,” said Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. “I joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns because I know that respect for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners is completely compatible with our efforts to keep ille- gal guns out of the hands of criminals. Supporting background checks for all gun sales at gun shows is a belief I share with most Americans, including a majority of National Rifle Association gun owners.”

In conjunction with the television advertisements, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is also launching a new advocacy website: www.CloseTheLoophole.- org. The website kicks off an online petition campaign asking Congress to close the Gun Show Loophole.

The petition seeks to rally public support around closing the Loophole. The vast majority of Americans support closing the Gun Show Loophole. A 2008 poll found that 87 percent of Americans support closing the Gun Show Loophole.

A 2009 poll found that 69 percent of National Rifle Association members support closing the Gun Show Loophole.

Under federal law, all federally licensed gun dealers – including all gun stores and anyone who sells guns professionally – must conduct background checks on all prospective firearms purchasers. However the law does not apply to private dealers who make what the law calls “occasional sales” from their “personal collection.” This gap in the law is called the Gun Show Loophole because gun shows form a central marketplace for prohibited purchasers to connect with private sellers who make anonymous gun sales with no checks.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected in some way to gun shows. A 2009 undercover investigation by the City of New York documented the persistent problem of illegal sales at gun shows.

The investigation, which covered seven gun shows in three states, proved on video how easy it is for criminals to buy firearms at gun shows. The investigators conducted “integrity tests” and found that 63 percent (19 of 30) of private sellers approached by investigators sold to a purchaser who said he “probably couldn’t pass a background check.”

The videos are available on http://- www.closetheloophole.org/undercover.

Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from just 15 mayors to 500 members. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation’s mayors around common sense goals: finding new ways to strengthen the enforcement of existing laws, protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.

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