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Gallardo: Close ‘loophole’ in state law involving gun shows

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, with victims of gun crimes on hand, explains his bill to require sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks. (Rebekah Zemansky/Cronkite News Service)

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, with victims of gun crimes on hand, explains his bill to require sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks. (Rebekah Zemansky/Cronkite News Service)

A Democratic state lawmaker says it’s time to close what he calls a gap in state law that allows people to purchase firearms at gun shows without the same background check required at shops.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, pointed to reports that at a Phoenix gun show New York City undercover officers recently were able to buy the same type of gun used to shoot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and kill six others even after one told a seller he probably couldn’t pass a background check.

Gallardo has introduced SB 1586, which would require background checks for all guns sold in Arizona.

“This is a problem that’s crying out for a solution,” he said.

The bill would force private sellers and vendors at gun shows to do the same basic background checks as gun shops – background checks intended to screen buyers who are under 18, have criminal records or have documented histories of mental illness.

Current law requires gun buyers at gun shows to show only a state ID and exempts private sellers from performing background checks.

Gallardo said this loophole makes guns more accessible to criminals and minors. It’s something that criminals and gun traffickers are very aware of, he said: Arizona ranks 13th in states that export firearms to other states, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

James Hinckley, who volunteers with Arizonans for Gun Safety, a community group that educates about gun violence, came to the Capitol to support Gallardo’s bill along with other survivors of gun violence.

Hinckley said he was 17 years old when he was shot during an argument with another teenager. Without a paper trail, no one could determine how Hinckley’s shooter was able to get his hands on a firearm.

“I know firsthand that some people I’ve been affiliated with will go to gun shows buy guns and then jack up the price and sell it later to anybody and everybody that they want,” Hinckley said. “They don’t care whether the kid is 15 or 50; they’re just trying to make a profit.”

Gerry Hills, also a volunteer for Arizonans for Gun Safety, said she supports safe gun ownership and believes that background checks will protect law-abiding Arizonans.

Hills said her brother, a Michigan police officer, was killed by a shooter who was able to buy and deal weapons despite a documented history of mental illness.

“This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue; this is a life-and-death issue,” Hills said. “We need one single law that applies to everybody.”

Gallardo said he tried and failed with the same legislation when he served in the state House.

“I understand its going to be an uphill battle,” he said. “I think most importantly we’ll continue to educate the public.”

Gallardo’s bill had yet to be assigned to a committee.


  1. Well, say goodbye to your Senate seat, Im guessing you wont be re-elected. I know that I certainly wont support you. We Arizonans like our guns more than we like people who try to pass laws restricting our 2nd amendment rights of ownership.

  2. “New York City undercover officers recently were able to buy [a gun] even after one told a seller he probably couldn’t pass a background check.”

    …so was the seller in that instance, who broke the law, arrested for this crime?

    I’m sure that if police departments regularly did stings like that and arrested and prosecuted the sellers who ignored the law (that you cannot sell a firearm to someone you know or reasonably suspect is a prohibited person), then the incidence of such sales would be reduced – and you’d get the one who were willing to break that law off the street and likely unable themselves to ever again legally possess a firearm.

    Please enforce the existing laws before you go asking for new ones.

  3. The big problem is this:

    There is no such thing as a gun show loophole. What he is talking about has absolutely nothing to do with gun shows. It’s disingenuous.

    What he is really talking about is ending private sales. Currently, if you own a gun, you can sell it to someone else without paperwork or a background check. That’s it. Sometimes, this just so happens to happen at gun shows.

    There’s absolutely nothing special in the law about gun shows. It just happens to be a convenient place for an individual to sell a firearm and get a better price than he would get from a shop.

    If Gallardo wants to end private sales, he should just say so instead of yammering on gun shows.

    Also, the second half of this article is filler. A volunteer for a gun safety organization supports safe gun ownership. Wow.

    Her brother’s killer didn’t even buy his gun at a gun show, so I am not even sure of the relevance. I suppose the author is trying to implicitly tie this to the recent and unfortunate Tucson shooting.

  4. Private individuals are not permitted to conduct background checks and consequently must be serviced for a fee by licensed dealers. But more to the point, a Bureau of Justice Statistics report on “Firearms Use by Offenders” found that only 0.8% of prison inmates reported acquiring firearms from gun shows. And repeat offenders were less likely to acquire them from retail sources, gun shows or flea markets. This 2001 study examined data from a 1997 Department of Justice survey of more than 18,000 federal and state prison inmates in 1,409 State prisons and 127 Federal prisons. The remaining 99.2% of inmates reported obtaining firearms from other sources:

    36.8% – friends or family
    20.9% – off the street
    9.6% – from the black market
    18.5% – pawnshops, flea markets, victims or burglaries
    9% – don’t know
    4.4% – refused to answer.

    Additionally, closing the gun show loophole has an unintended consequence. As proposed, a citizen wishing to sell an older firearm will be forced to obtain a criminal background report on a prospective buyer. The additional cost, effort and time will cause most to forego the fuss, keep the used gun and buy a new one. Such a law will greatly reduce used gun availability, steering buyers to new guns instead. It’s a politically inspired bonanza for gun manufacturers. Additionally, because only a tiny fraction of privately sold guns are used in crimes, such a law won’t make us significantly safer. Closing the gun show loophole is another expensive violation of the 2nd Amendment that won’t accomplish much.

    Let’s be honest about the “loophole.” It’s strictly a political issue promoted by Bloomberg. He’s a dwarf politician with a billion dollars and he desperately wants to play with grown-up politicians. He got away with this outrageous and inaccurate campaign because most journalists helped him. They didn’t check his facts.

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