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Gun Shows, Background Checks Move To Center Of Debate

Gun control advocates have pushed for requiring background checks, but gun owners say private sales are protected under the Second Amendment.

Indy gun show

Photo: Jimmy Jenkins?WFIU-WTIU News

Signs in front of the Indianapolis Gun Show point people to the event and give instructions before they enter.

As President Obama and federal lawmakers propose ways to curb gun violence, many point to gun shows as the weak link in the country’s background check system.

Brian Floyd brought his Remington 12-gauge shotgun to the Indianapolis Gun Show. He taped  a “For Sale” sign to the top, hoping someone might buy it.

“Walk around, line of sight, someone sees the “For Sale” sign on the top, and they’ll come over and ask,” Floyd says. “If they like what they see and the price is right, then we make a sale. And if not, then they move along and so do I.”

Gun show attendees say this modern barter system is one of the reasons they go to gun shows.

But some worry this type of sale makes it easy for weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Speaking Friday on WFIU’s Noon Edition, Eddie Deckard, who owns Bloomington’s Four Seasons Gun Shop, says he thinks a better background check system is needed.

“I’ve loved guns my entire life. But background checks are a very necessary thing. I think they can be improved,” Deckard says. “There are so many laws on the books that when I see things like that I think, ‘Wow, how can they get away with that?”

President Barack Obama has said closing this loophole is a priority. But Indianapolis Gun Show spokesperson Ashley Varner says she does not want to see private sales at gun shows disappear.

“It is between two people, it’s a private transaction. And not only that, but it’s more important than protecting the right to sell a car to a friend because the second amendment is enshrined, is protected by our constitution,” Varner says.

Varner says background checks were required for customers buying guns from the show’s official vendors.

For more on gun control and the ongoing debate, listen to Noon Edition’s Jan 25, 2013 episode.

Julie Rawe

Julie is Assistant Producer of Noon Edition. In addition to reporting for WFIU, she also works as an intern for NPR's State of the Re:Union. She is a graduate of Indiana University where she studied French, anthropology, and African studies.

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