The organizers of the Florida Gun Show, held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa this weekend, told reporters that a record number of people attended the event this year. The event's manager, George Fernandez, says they've never seen numbers like this before — and the renewed gun control push from the Left played a significant role in boosting attendance.
"Some of the people attending are afraid that future legislation will impact their gun ownership rights," Fernandez told WTSP.
Among the many voices on the Left calling for more stringent gun control laws is Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is pushing for the closing of the oft-cited "gun show loophole," which supposedly allows individuals to purchase guns without undergoing a background check at gun shows, a misleading claim that has been repeatedly debunked.
Fernandez pushed back against the "gun show loophole" claim, telling WTSP that around 95% of the vendors at the show were licensed dealers, thus required by law to run background checks. Around 5%, he estimated, were private citizens, whose sale of guns follows the same federal regulations as any other private citizen's sales of their firearms.
WTSP notes that "several Florida counties, including Pinellas and Hillsborough, have passed ordinances that would require private citizens to run background checks as well."
The Federalist's Sean Davis provides a succinct debunking of the "gun show loophole" myth. "There is no loophole in federal law that specifically exempts gun show transactions from any other laws normally applied to gun sales. Not one," writes Davis:
If you purchase a firearm from a federal firearms licensee (FFL) regardless of the location of the transaction — a gun store, a gun show, a gun dealer’s car trunk, etc. — that FFL must confirm that you are legally allowed to purchase that gun. That means the FFL must either run a background check on you via the federal NICS database, or confirm that you have passed a background check by examining your state-issued concealed carry permit or your government-issued purchase permit. There are zero exceptions to this federal requirement.
If an individual purchases a gun across state lines — from an individual or FFL which resides in a different state than the buyer — the buyer must undergo a background check, and the sale must be processed by an FFL in the buyer’s home state.
What does exist, however, is a federal exemption for sales between two private, non-FFL residents of the same state, regardless of whether that transaction happens at a gun show or not. The identity of the parties involved in the transaction, not the venue of the sale, is what matters under federal law. This federal exemption makes perfect sense: there’s no federal nexus for a purely private transaction between two private individuals who reside in the same state.
In addition to calling for the closing of the "gun show loophole," Sen. Nelson and others in the Democratic Party have called for the banning of "assault rifles," another nebulous phrase that gun rights activists say is ultimately meaningless.
The renewed push for gun control comes in part as a response to the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, which left 17 students and teachers dead. Prior to the massacre, the shooter exhibited mental health and behavioral issues, and authorities had been warned multiple times that he was a threat to others.
"This was a mental health issue," Fernandez told WTSP. "This is someone who should have been identified from the beginning by law enforcement."
Sen. Nelson was one of the participants in CNN's chaotic town hall on gun control last week that at times devolved into members of the crowd shouting down pro-Second Amendment advocates, including the NRA's Dana Loesch and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.