AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas bill could require private sellers at gun shows to conduct federal background checks before allowing a buyer to purchase a firearm.
Currently, private sellers do not have to do so, which is commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole” by some critics.
“Right now any criminal, domestic abuser, other person that may be violent that’s already prohibited by law from buying a gun can go to a booth at a gun show — that is not a licensed dealer — and buy a gun,” said Andrea Brauer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, authored the bill. The proposal would expand the definition of a gun show, require background checks for gun purchases at the event, and require sellers to keep a record of sale. The bill would make it possible for promoters to be culpable if they promote or operate a gun show that does not follow the background check requirements, among other provisions. However, the proposal would not mandate background checks for law enforcement or people who have a license to carry a handgun.
Some opponents of the bill argue the state already has some protections in place, such as the provisions that make it illegal for a person to sell a gun to someone they know will use the gun unlawfully or sell to a buyer who they know has recently been convicted of a felony.
“Criminals by nature, they don’t obey the laws. That’s what I don’t understand about the liberal left is they are consistently trying to come up with this perfect package to make sure that bad guys don’t get guns,” said Texas State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford. “[Criminals] don’t obey laws to begin with.”
“I think things like [the gun show bill] do not infringe on a law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms at the end of the day,” said Brauer. “It’s really just reinforcing the criminals and people should not have guns, that are already prohibited, shouldn’t indeed have them.”
The bill, authored by a Democrat, will likely face stiff opposition in a Texas legislature where Republicans hold the majority.
The U.S. Department of Justice surveyed state prison inmates who had guns when they committed their crimes. The 2004 survey found about 40 percent of inmates got their weapons from an illegal source like theft or from a drug dealer. Nearly 40 percent of the convicts said they got the gun from family or friends. Less than one percent of the criminals said they purchased their guns at a gun show.