A.G. Closed Loophole In Gun Show Law To Help Keep Guns Out Of The Hands Of Those Who Can’t Pass Background Checksl; Landmark Standards Go Beyond State Gun Show Laws, Including Improved Oversight; Schneiderman: Our Office Is Taking A Creative Approach To Protect The Public From Illegal Gun Sales
(Buffalo, N.Y.) – Following an undercover investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today 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:
- Saratoga Springs
This agreement with the operators follows the Attorney General’s eight-month 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.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General In-Charge of the Rochester Regional Office Debra Martin under the Supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs, Martin J. Mack.