In 1998, over 4,400 gun shows were conducted around the country. 478 were held in Texas alone.1 The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) estimates on average 2,500 – 5,000 gun shows are held annually. In general, between 25% to 50% of sellers are not licensed dealers.2 The access to anonymous sales and the availability of large numbers of secondhand guns makes gun shows attractive to criminals and other prohibited purchasers. A federal study found that 10% of guns used in crime by juveniles were sold either at a gun show or a flea market, and in 1999, gun shows were associated with approximately 26,000 firearms used in crime.3, 4
Why is it important to get rid of the gun show loophole?
The gun show loophole makes it very easy for guns to fall into the hands of prohibited individuals, including criminals and juveniles. Closing the loophole would put a barrier between the legal and illegal markets for guns. It is more difficult for law enforcement to trace firearms sold on the secondary market. Second-hand firearms typically have left the possession of a licensed dealer, where records are kept, and reached the hands of an unlicensed seller, who is not required to keep records.