Two Virginia legislators pushing for stricter gun laws made an undercover video of themselves buying a gun without undergoing criminal background checks.

“You don’t look like you’re ready to go do a bank heist or something,” a gun show vendor remarks to state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Del. Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) before they buy a handgun and a high-capacity magazine.

The sales were perfectly legal under Virginia law, which does not require background checks on gun sales between private individuals, or on any ammunition sales.

But Ebbin and Hope say the law should be changed to close the so-called gun show loophole. They said the video demonstrates that it’s too easy to buy weapons in Virginia.

“We easily purchased a handgun at a Virginia gun show, without undergoing a background check,” they said in a joint statement. “Sadly, nearly 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check. In the interest of community safety, it’s not too much to ask for responsible gun purchasers to undergo a background check to screen for criminal history or history of serious mental illness.”

It is important to note that the vendor did nothing illegal according to Virginia law. That is what people are calling the “gun show loophole.”  Many folks want to put a stop to this kind of exclusion and want ALL gun buyers to have to go through the background check.  I don’t see where it would hurt.

56 Thoughts to “No gunshow loopholes? Lawmakers prove the loophole exists”

  1. I don’t see where they get this “40%.” Or how they can determine it if it is a private sale.

    The only way to enforce a universal background check, in which one has to go through an FFL, is to register all guns. Otherwise, how would the gov’t do a background check when people accept presents, inherit weapons, etc.

    Furthermore, many FFL’s DO NOT want the legal burden of having a third party background check since they are liable for all records. And the ATF will close you down on minor technicalities. So if they are not selling the gun and making a profit….they don’t want it. Or, if they price the check high enough, why should lawful gun owners be penalized for transferring property? And why is there a declaration on the form stating what firearm is being purchased? Who cares? If the buyer is checked, either way it doesn’t matter what the serial number and type of weapon it is.

    If they would allow the private citizen to access the NICS system so that they could inquire and no registration was required, no problem. I like my original idea. You get your driver’s license. If you are not a prohibited person, you get one type. If you are or become one, you get another. Show your ID and you are checked.

    1. Then all licenses would have to be renewed. No one wants to wait 7 years.

      I guess we are all going to have to do things that we don’t like.

  2. Forgot to add… no “gunshow loophole” exists. One CAN buy and sell private property if one is not in the BUSINESS of guns selling. You can do this ANYWHERE, as I did for Christmas.

    1. Those are weazel words. If you are at a gun show, it is disengenous to pretend that you are just buying and selling private property.
      This man didn’t know these guys from Adam. He sold them guns. So this is why now you are going to have the govt. breathing down your neck, because this kind of crap was legal forever.

      I think everyone should be background checked as to most Americans.

      It just irritates the living hell out of me to hear anyone say “there is no gun show loop hole.” Just what do you call it then when someone doesn’t have to go through a background check because they are saying ph its a private sale.

      Weazel words!!!!

  3. Found it. The so-called 40%.

    The dubious statistic of guns that avoided background checks — which is actually 36 percent — comes from a small 251-person survey on gun sales two decades ago, very early in the Clinton administration. Most of the survey covered sales before the Brady Act instituted mandatory federal background checks in early 1994.

    Perhaps that statistic needs to be updated. It won’t be. Too useful a lie.

    1. 36% 40% Why is this a lie? statistical margin of error its sounds like to me.

      Is everything you don’t want to hear a lie?

      Does it alerm you in any way that 36% of all gun sales, clearly over a third, don’t have a background check?

  4. Clinton S. Long

    I am curious. I went to my first gun show in years at Dale City VFW. I noticed every vendor had a laptop at the booth and all were on the State Police website either entering info or it just being open. I also noted that some (very few) guns were marked “private” which I assume to show those which did not need a check.

    If gun show sales are exempt, what were the vendors on the state website for? Is there some other requirement?

    1. Some are venders and some aren’t aI guess. Some of the sellers are just selling privately. I think that is like being a little bit pregnant.

      I hope someone comes along with a better answer for you, Clinton. I think all sales should have to go through background checks.

      After hearing all the bs today, I am chaning my mind about opposing registration also.

  5. I f you are a dealer, actually in the business of buying and selling guns, you must be an FFL, federal firearms licensee. Only dealers have access to the NICS.

    If you buy from a dealer, you fill out form 4473. The dealer contacts the NICS or state background check, and gives that info. The response comes back in minutes or, sometimes, days later, depending upon “traffic” as it did over Christmas. The system broke down under the load. That’s probably what you saw. They also do it over the phone. Virginia has its own background check system. I don’t know if we still use it.

    Private sales at gun shows and elsewhere are exempt in Virginia from the NICS.

  6. Clinton S. Long

    Thanks, Cargo. That is why I was confused when there is so much talk about gun shows being exempt and I thought it looked like most every booth was linked in to the state. Appreciate the info.

  7. @Clinton S. Long
    The “gun show loophole” is an invention by the VPC and popularized by professional gun controller, Colin Goddard, of the CSGV. There is no “loophole.” In Virginia, one can sell a gun to another as long as you ascertain that he is a state resident, and you have no knowledge of that person being a prohibited person. The gun controllers use the term because it works on the emotional level. Whenever they use the terms, “selling private property,” they’re success at pushing their agenda dropped. You do not need to be a a gun show.

    1. This is why gun owners like me are in open rebellion of over current non-laws.

      Oh, and Colin Goddard should also have VA Tech massacre surivor added to his resume. If survivng that massacre doesn’t entitle you to work for gun regulation, I don’t know what does. Apparently many want to deny Gabby Giffords also.

      Why even have a background check at all if 40% of the gun sales don’t involve it.

      Cargo, I have some bad news…the more people learn about the vague laws and limited regulation, the worse it is getting. People aren’t going to say OK and go away.

      Most of us only learn what we need to know.

  8. Lyssa

    You are delusional. The only word for it. Do you believe the Holacaust happened?

  9. @Moon-howler
    I don’t have a problem with licenses being renewed….but, then why? What puts you on the prohibited list is being adjudicated. And if you are….your license would change. If you aren’t their is no need for another check.

  10. Oh, and Colin Goddard should also have VA Tech massacre surivor added to his resume. If survivng that massacre doesn’t entitle you to work for gun regulation, I don’t know what does. Apparently many want to deny Gabby Giffords also.

    Ok. He’s a survivor. But that isn’t relevant to his profession. Many people have survived and gone the opposite way or they work for agendas without going through trauma.

    But he is a professional activist. So that is why I put it there.

    1. So is Gabby Giffords.

      Remember, most of the people here are gun owners also. I don’t think a person has spoken on this blog who doesn’t own a gun or live in the house with a gun.

      We are hardly the anti-gun crew or whatever you call us. crew? crowd?

  11. @Moon-howler
    “Why even have a background check at all if 40% of the gun sales don’t involve it.”

    Because that statistic is bogus.

    1. Says who? You yourself said it was 36%. There really isn’t much difference.

  12. Lyssa :
    You are delusional. The only word for it. Do you believe the Holacaust happened?

    What are you talking about and where did that come from?

  13. Lyssa

    That all gun purchases at gun shows are verified by a background check. That there is no loophole.

  14. Pat.Herve

    It is like pushing on a rope.

    A person with a display case in front of him with numerous guns is obviously a dealer. He may call himself whatever he wants – he is a dealer.

  15. Lady Emma

    I’ve never been to a gun show where background checks weren’t done. It’s hard to trust anything the gun-control lobby says when so many of them get the basic facts wrong.

  16. Lyssa

    That’s quite a statement – never been to a gun show where background checks weren’t done. Did you visit each vendor? Do you think people are making this up? Do you think Ebbin and Hope are making it up? My husband says he has been to gun shows where backgrounds weren’t done. – he owns shotguns – just so he’s not written off

    It’s a fact –

  17. Lady Emma

    So Adam Lanza didn’t get a background check–go figure, since he didn’t even own the gun he used.

  18. Lyssa

    That’s neither the point or the question. I was asking you what you believe to be true or if you think this is made up.

  19. Roanoke Times:

    After the 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech, an expert panel appointed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine recommended legislation that would require background checks for all firearms transactions, including private sales. But bills that would expand background checks to private sales at gun shows have failed in the 2008 General Assembly session and every session since.

  20. @Lady Emma

    That really isn’t the point. We can’t chase the news. (unless we are TSA)

    Reform should take in all situations, not just ones where some wack job has gone off the radar.

    IF Cho had been put in the system, he wouldn’t have passed a background check. but he wasn’t.

    To me, if you are at that gun show and selling anything to anyone, you are a dealer. I am ready to say all gun sales go through a background check, even it its a sale to your next door neighbor or daughter. Oh hell, throw in gifting guns also.

  21. Elena

    Just wondering, what is the problem with ensuring their is a backgound check, why is this even an arugment? Clearly, that is a deficiency, ackowledge it and fix it, end of story.

    1. Private sales. It makes no sense to me either, Elena. It is a huge “loophole.” How about just skirting the law? If the law allows this, things need to tighten up.

    2. Maybe this is where you and I will get to hear whining about undue burden????????

  22. @Moon-howler
    Actually, I was meaning that even the 36% was bogus since the study was so badly done, so small, and so long ago that it does not apply to current conditions.

  23. Lyssa :
    That all gun purchases at gun shows are verified by a background check. That there is no loophole.

    I didn’t say that.

    I said that there is no gun show loophole, that all sales by DEALERS at guns shows have checks. All other sales are just private sales which could be done ANYWHERE. It doesn’t have to be done at a gun show. That TERM was invented to push buttons.

  24. @Moon-howler
    Set up system to do so without causing undue burden on the lawful.
    There. Happy?

    But really, set up a new system where the citizen can access the system and get a yes or no. No need to even list the guns. No written records at all.

    Or there’s my idea of a standard background check and licenses.

    But no registration. And that is the reason why most gun controllers want universal under the current system. For it to work…all guns would have to be registered. And once registered… the citizenry can be controlled.

  25. Censored bybvbl

    And once registered… the citizenry can be controlled.

    This is the underlying argument against registration? Paranoia about the feds? How about some examples to illustrate why the average Joe or Jane should be afraid of control by the feds. How is one person to fight this “control”? Do they form a militia with their drinking buddies or fellow conspiracy theorists?

  26. Lady Emma

    If dealers are selling guns at gun shows without background checks, that is not a “loophole.” They are breaking the law. I have no problem with enforcing existing laws.@Lyssa

  27. @Censored bybvbl
    Control….as in confiscation of guns.

    And since your question is obviously not serious due to the insulting tone… I’ll leave you to do your own research.

  28. Lyssa

    Yes, Emma, they are and it should end. You are playing the “I did not have sex with that woman” game with words. You buy a gun, it requires a background.

  29. Lyssa

    Emma/Cargo you are playing the “I did not have sex with that woman” game with words. You buy a gun, it requires a background. Dealer or not.

  30. Censored bybvbl


    And if the feds decide at some point that a certain type of weapon will be held only by the military and police, you’ll do what?

  31. Lady Emma

    @Lyssa Oh, Lyssa. I am SO not touching that one.

    Kindly show me where I opposed background checks. I don’t. My point was that most of the proposals would have done nothing to stop Adam Lanza.

    1. Hopefully we aren’t just chasing the news. Hopefully we are looking at comprehensive safety and will build, alter, enact laws thaat direct at all forms of weapon safety.

      Frankly, the only thing I think would have stopped Adam Lanza is institutionalizing him. That is an area that needs great reform.

      Old school here. I took field trips to St. E’s, Western and Eastern State when in school. I was horrified and determined to never earn my living dealing with this end of humanity. I have seen some of what was warehoused in those institutions first hand and I will never forget it. Some where barely human.

      I will believe forever that those places should have never been shut down. However, I believe that there should have been greater checks and balances ensured to prevent cruelty. Not sure if dealing with that day to day brought out cruelty or if the job attracted cruelty.

      Additionally, some of the practices appeared cruel. Electro-shock leaps to mind. However, it is still being done today as a treatment for some forms of mental illness. Go figure. Throwing severely disabled people on the streets is no solution and it isn’t any less cruel.

      I can close my eyes and still visualize being in the snake pit. That novel, The Snake Pit, as well as other literature, gave rise to some of the reforms that happened in the 70’s.

      Rather than just saying “liberals” lets include court actions. I was always opposed to closing those institutions.

  32. Starryflights

    Armed School Guard Leaves Gun in Student Bathroom


    Oh yeah,I feel better now! Only idiots would believe armed guards in schools would be a good thing

  33. Lyssa

    Your playing semantics with “dealer”.

  34. @Lyssa
    No. Dealer is a legal term defined by the ATF.

    Also, I’m not against background checks. Just make it so that the citizen can access it, and there’s no record of what gun is being transferred.

    1. I disagree about gun records. I can’t think of any reason that would make me change my mind.

  35. Lyssa

    Dealer are required, private sellers are not. Both dealers and private sellers participate at gun shows. Both are not required to conduct a background. Both should.

    1. I would not have a problem with requiring anyone who sells a weapon to be a registered dealer. Then they do background checks.

  36. Lyssa

    I think that would give me a “fighting chance” against the millions of guns in private hands in this country. That is one protection for people like me who wish to live in a country where I have the right to choose to own a gun or not own a gun and feel reasonably safe.

  37. Lady Emma

    @Cargosquid you would deny someone a half-baked “gotcha!!!”?

    How cruel you are. No guns for you!

  38. @Moon-howler
    I do. I do not want to be limited to selling only to a dealer.

    You feel that having a dealer be the only seller would give you a fighting chance against millions of gun owners…..? I don’t follow your logic.

    1. @cargo 708

      You don’t have to sell to just a dealer. Sell to me if you want, but you must put me through the background check.

      I want everyone to get it. You don’t know that I am not crazier than a bucket of bat-sh!t.

  39. And it begins…..

    This is tantamount to confiscation….what happens if the state does not APPROVE of any storage facilities? And it makes these firearms into gov’t controlled. Also, how does one “keep and bear” if one is not allowed to keep it and be able to access it at need? This is one of the dangers of registration.


  40. OK, we have to all do better. We need to put up times or something. I can’t tell who is responding to what, including myself.

    @cargo 1910

    I have not seen Obama say that.

    however, if he did, I would have no trouble keeping a certain class of weapon there. Not all weapons but like third tier weapons…no problem.

    On the other hand, you should be totally sympathizing with the reproductive rights people. How is abortion legal if you can’t get one anywhere because of TARP laws and not allowing doctors to practice unless they have hospital priviledges?

    Believe me, I totally understand the concept of there being more than one way to skin a cat.

  41. I sympathize with the idea behind the “reproductive rights” people. My problem is that whole right to life thing that one has. THAT is my argument.

    Obama didn’t say this one. But tell me that he wouldn’t sign it if it was a federal bill.

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