Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Gun Shows: An American Tradition

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Gun Shows, a piece of Americana. Like boat shows, car shows and art shows, gun shows are large events open to the public. Held in convention centers and similar facilities, they attract a broad range of people with an interest in guns, including collectors, hunters, target shooters, police officers and military personnel. Exhibitors include gun dealers (all federally licensed), gun collectors, hunting guides, target shooting clubs, and vendors of books, clothing, hunting accessories, targets, gun parts and the like.

Gun Shows & the First Amendment. Gun shows are an important venue for those interested in the political issues surrounding gun ownership. Attendees meet and share information in order to work together to protect rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of 44 states. As such, gun shows are an important part of the political process, an important part of political speech protected by the First Amendment.

Gun Shows and Federal Law. Federal gun laws apply equally everywhere; there are no special exemptions for gun shows. Under the Gun Control Act (1968), anyone who "engages in the business" of selling firearms must be licensed, regardless of where he does business. There is no such thing as an "unlicensed dealer," and dealing in guns without a license is a federal felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In the Firearms Owners Protection Act (1986), Congress specifically authorized licensed firearms dealers to conduct business at gun shows.

Many Federal laws place obstacles to criminals getting guns. Under Federal law (and many state laws), felons, illegal aliens, fugitives, drug addicts and several other classes of "prohibited persons" are barred from possessing guns or ammunition. It is also illegal to buy a gun for a prohibited person (called a "straw purchase") or provide a gun to a prohibited person by any other means. These are felony offenses punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Gun Shows and the National Instant Check System. Congress has provided tens of millions of dollars to upgrade state criminal history records for entry into the National Instant Check System (NICS), which is used to screen retail gun purchasers. Federal law requires dealers to always screen gun customers through NICS. They must do so at gun shows, just as they would anywhere else.

Congress has specifically addressed gun sales by people who are not dealers. Under Federal law, a person who is not a dealer may sell a gun to another non-dealer for the purpose of "improving or liquidating a personal firearms collection." This is true wherever the sale occurs, and only a tiny percentage of such sales occur at shows. As noted, however, to "engage in the business" of dealing in firearms requires a federal license.

Few criminals get guns at gun shows. The most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) survey of imprisoned felons found that less than 1% obtained guns from gun shows. (Firearms Use by Offenders, Nov. 2001). The previous BJS survey found that only 1.7% of federal prison inmates got their guns from gun shows. (Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98, June 2000) An earlier National Institutes of Justice study found that less than 2% obtained guns from shows. (Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities, Dec. 1997) According to these reports, most criminals get guns from theft or burglary, the black market, or friends and family members.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Gun Shows
TRENDING NOW
In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

At Biden's recent Rose Garden ceremony, where he announced his latest assault on the Second Amendment, he lied a number of times, and garbled the name of the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal gun ...

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

News  

Friday, April 9, 2021

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

During a press conference on Thursday, President Biden announced that he would once again be targeting law-abiding gun owners by ordering ATF to develop two new restrictive regulations. Aiming to accessorize the Department of Justice’s ...

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

Rahm Emanuel, recently the mayor of Chicago and who has previously served as a member of the Clinton Administration and as President Obama’s White House chief of staff, proposed a few curious gun control ideas ...

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

News  

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

There is a central hypocrisy at the heart of the gun control effort.

South Carolina House Passes Constitutional Carry

Friday, April 9, 2021

South Carolina House Passes Constitutional Carry

Yesterday, the House voted to pass House Bill 3096 on third reading. It has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.

NRA-backed Constitutional Carry Signed in Tennessee

News  

Thursday, April 8, 2021

NRA-backed Constitutional Carry Signed in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee signs NRA-backed constitutional carry bill to advance the self-defense rights of all Tennessee gun owners. 

Millions of Americans Bought Guns Last Month

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Millions of Americans Bought Guns Last Month

Firearm retailers reported to their trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, that 40% of their customers during the Surge of 2020 were first time gun buyers.

U.S. House Bows to Biden, Passes Legislation to Cancel Your RIGHT to Obtain a Firearm

News  

Monday, March 15, 2021

U.S. House Bows to Biden, Passes Legislation to Cancel Your RIGHT to Obtain a Firearm

The U.S. House Representatives, with the urging and support of Joe Biden, passed two bills on Thursday – H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 – that would usher in a sweeping overhaul of how firearms are bought and sold in ...

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Signs Two Pro-Gun Bills

Friday, April 9, 2021

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Signs Two Pro-Gun Bills

Today, Governor Jim Justice signed House Bill 2499, to exempt firearms and ammunition from state sales and use taxes, and House Bill 2793, to create the option of a nonresident West Virginia concealed carry permit. ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.