Opinion

Is There a Gun Show Loophole?

Firearms are one of the United States’s most heated political topics. Gun control opponents tend to argue that gun control takes away the right to protect oneself, while gun control advocates argue that more gun control will better protect the public from danger. More restrictions on firearms or banning all firearms are the two main goals of gun control advocates. Gun control advocates tend to mention the “gun show loophole.” The gun show loophole is the alleged practice of firearm vendors selling firearms without meeting any federal background check requirements, which makes it easier for unqualified buyers to get weapons.

Recently, I went to my first gun show ever. Each third weekend of the month, the Austin Highway Event Center hosts a gun show called, “Kim’s Gun Show”. I saw the event on Facebook, and decided to go. I wanted to take this opportunity to see if this “gun show loophole” really exists, and if so, to what extent it does exist.

Once I entered the venue, I was amazed. There were over 200 tables of guns, knives, ammunition, antiques, T-shirts, jewellery and more. I did not really know where to begin. I started walking around until I found a table with handguns. I asked questions to the vendor and displayed my interest in buying one. The vendor notified me that I had to be 21 in order for him to be able to sell one to me. Of course, I was not really serious about purchasing a gun that day. I just wanted to see if vendors heeded to the federal background check and the state law that says one must be 21 or over in order to purchase a handgun. Next, I went over to a table full of pocket knives and Bowie knives. I wanted to buy a cheap folding knife just to use as a utility. Once I spotted one I wanted, I picked it up and notified the vendor. I handed him 5 dollars, and he said “enjoy your knife”.

When people think of the “gun show loophole,” knives do not usually come to mind. People tend to think of mass shooters or murderers getting away with buying assault rifles or automatic weapons at these shows. Knives are not really in the picture, initially. However, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Expanded Homicide Data Table for 2017, more homicides are committed with knives than both rifles and shotguns combined. To be specific, 403 homicides were committed with rifles, 264 with shotguns, and 1,591 were committed with knives. These are big numbers, but nowhere near the amount of handgun homicides. Handguns accounted for 7,032 homicides. Handguns are more controlled, however. In Texas, where 18-year-olds can buy rifles, one must be 21 or over to purchase a handgun. This partially disproves the existence of a “gun show loophole.”

Even though some vendors might be more lenient than others, this does not fully prove that there is an absolute “gun show loophole”. If someone gets away with purchasing a firearms without going through federal background check or identification, that is the fault of the firearm vendor. The firearm vendor is the one breaking the law by selling one a firearm without performing the federal background check. Secondly, I did not see any automatic weapons or illegal knives being sold at this gun show. The fault is fully on the intentions of the individual vendor. We should not ban gun shows because of an individual seller’s sketchy dealings.

Emma McMahan is a sophomore at Trinity University, majoring in International Studies with a triple minor in Chinese, Economics, and Political Science. She is the Social Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas at Trinity University. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, songwriting, and reading classic novels.

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