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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.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Federal Court Upholds Decision to Block California’s Magazine Ban

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Anti-gun Efforts to Expand U.N. Regulations to Ammunition Continue

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Anti-gun Efforts to Expand U.N. Regulations to Ammunition Continue

Shortly before 4:00am last Saturday morning, the two week long Third Review Conference (RevCon3) on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All ...

Washington: Seattle City Council Passes Ordinance Making Firearms Unavailable for Self-Defense

Monday, July 16, 2018

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On July 9th, the Seattle City Council passed a mandatory firearm storage ordinance to restrict the self-defense rights of Seattle residents.  The ordinance, if signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, will impose a one-size-fits-all method of storing firearms as ...

Justice Scalia Made Clear the Second Amendment and Heller Prohibit “Assault Weapon” Bans

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Second Amendment  

Gun Laws  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Justice Scalia Made Clear the Second Amendment and Heller Prohibit “Assault Weapon” Bans

On July 9, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered the following ham-handed statement in an attempted attack on President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh is a true Second Amendment radical. ...

Illinois: Governor Signs Two Gun Control Bills

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Illinois: Governor Signs Two Gun Control Bills

On July 17th, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 3256 into law.

California DOJ Withdraws Proposed Regulations Expanding Application of “Assault Weapon” Definitions

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

California DOJ Withdraws Proposed Regulations Expanding Application of “Assault Weapon” Definitions

On Monday, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms (“CA DOJ”) officially withdrew the proposed regulations that would have expanded the improperly adopted “assault weapon” definitions, to apply in all circumstances. This withdrawal comes ...

Delaware: Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Sunday Deer Hunting

Hunting  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Delaware: Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Sunday Deer Hunting

On July 11th, Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 198 into law to expand hunting opportunities in Delaware by eliminating the prohibition against hunting for deer on Sundays and allowing for the harvesting of deer on Sundays ...

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.

NRA Files Comments in Support of Trump Administration’s Export Reform Effort

News  

Friday, July 13, 2018

NRA Files Comments in Support of Trump Administration’s Export Reform Effort

On Monday, the public comment period closed on a pair of rulemakings that could finally free American gun owners and small businesses from being trapped in a minefield of federal regulations designed for exporters of ...

NRA Endorses State Senator Leah Vukmir for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

News  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

NRA Endorses State Senator Leah Vukmir for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is proud to announce its endorsement of state Sen. Leah Vukmir in the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate Primary in Wisconsin.

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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.