2012-12-21 / Top Stories

Gun Show Policy Overhaul

Following an undercover investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that his office has reached agreements with two major gun show operators to implement new procedures at their gun shows across New York State. The operators – Niagara Frontier Collectors, Inc., located in Chautauqua County, and NEACA, Inc., located in Saratoga County – hold gun shows at venues throughout the state involving hundreds of gun sellers and buyers each year. As part of their agreement with the Attorney General, the two gun show operators established procedures that go beyond the requirements of the state’s Gun Show Law, including a process that ensures all guns brought into the gun show by private sellers are tagged so that, upon exiting, the operator can determine if guns were sold and that a proper background check was performed.

"Our investigation demonstrated how the 'off the books' sale of guns presents a great risk to public safety. This agreement builds upon our work by holding gun show operators responsible for the purchases made at their events," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "Gun violence is an epidemic, and my office is working with gun show operators to create simple guidelines to ensure that these deadly weapons don't make it into the hands of felons, terrorists, the dangerously mentally ill and others that could not pass a background check. It’s a win-win for public safety and the Constitution."

The Attorney General's Office and the gun show operators worked together to develop the procedures which balance the rights of the sportsmen and gun collectors with the need to protect the public from the sale of guns to people who cannot pass a background check, also known as a "National Instant Criminal Background Check System" or "NICS.” These two gun show operators signed an agreement which requires them to do the following:

 Post conspicuous signs throughout
the shows, give written notice to all
dealers and lay out in their on-line
promotional materials the following:
"New York State law requires that a
National Instant Criminal Background Check must be completed prior to all firearm sales or transfers,
including sales or transfers of rifles or
shotguns. The sale or transfer of a
firearm, rifle or shotgun at a Gun
Show without first conducting a
Background Check is a crime. It is
also a crime to offer or agree to sell a
firearm, rifle or shotgun at a Gun
Show and then transfer it at another
location for the purpose of avoiding a
National Instant Criminal Background Check."
 Require that all guns brought into
the gun show by private sellers are
tagged so that, upon exiting, the operator can determine if the guns were
sold and an NICS was performed.
 Inform all gun show staff of the
requirements of posting signs and
conducting NICS.
 Provide access to a dealer who is
authorized to conduct a NICS at cost.
 Limit the number of access doors at

the show so that sellers and buyers
have to enter and exit through an
area where the NICS procedures
can be monitored.
 Use reasonable means to prevent
illegal gun sales outside of the
building, including the parking lot.
 Alert local law enforcement that a
show will be held in their area, and
request periodic patrols in the parking lots to deter illegal sales.
 Call local law enforcement if illegal
sales are observed or suspected.
Locations for recent and upcoming
scheduled gun shows operated by
Niagara Frontier Collectors and
NEACA include:
 Akron
 Alexander
 Caledonia
 Canandaigua
 Cheektowaga
 Clarence
 Elmira
 Hamburg
 Saratoga Springs
 Springville

This agreement with the operators follows the Attorney General's eightmonth investigation, "Operation Background Bust," which began last year and involved undercover work at six gun shows in Erie, Genesee, Saratoga, Schoharie, Suffolk and Washington counties. Undercover investigators told ten gun sellers that they had orders of protection against them and could not pass a background check. Despite this, all ten were able to purchase guns at the shows and leave the show grounds without being subjected to a NICS.

A person who fails a NICS background check is ineligible to purchase or possess a gun under federal law. This applies to people who:

 Have been convicted of a felony;
 Have been adjudicated a “mental
defective” or committed to a mental
institution;
 Are unlawful users of or addicted to
a controlled substance;
 Being an alien, are illegally or
unlawfully in the U.S.;
 Are subject to a court order that
restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner;
 Have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
 Have been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed
Forces.

As a result of selling guns without a NICS, these ten sellers were prosecuted by the Attorney General. Nine of them pled guilty to the Class A Misdemeanor violation of the Gun Show Law and one was found guilty last month following a jury trial in Hamburg Town Court.

The Attorney General intends to continue to work with other New York gun show operators individually to create more oversight of the gun-purchasing process, but remains a strong advocate for uniform, statewide procedures. Such an accomplishment would make New York the first in the nation to have guidelines that reflect government and gun owners working together to insure safe gun ownership.

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