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Lautenberg

Says "in our gun laws we’re allowing domestic abusers to sidestep this ban on getting a gun. The loophole allows a convicted abuser to walk into a gun show and walk out with a gun, no questions asked."

Frank Lautenberg on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 in a speech on the Senate floor

Frank Lautenberg claims a loophole allows individuals convicted of domestic violence to purchase guns

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg pushed through a law 15 years ago that prohibits people convicted of domestic violence from acquiring a gun. But the Democrat said there’s still avenues for those individuals to arm themselves.

Lautenberg spoke April 26 on the Senate floor in favor of reauthorizing legislation that supports efforts to help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. During his speech, he said even more needs to be done in this area.

"Let me be clear. It would be tragic to turn our backs on victims and the people who dedicate their lives to supporting them. While we can’t stop all malicious acts, we can do more to keep women and their families safe," Lautenberg said. "In 1996, I wrote the domestic violence gun ban, [which] forbids anyone convicted of domestic violence from getting a gun. Since the law's inception, we have kept guns from falling into violent hands on over 200,000 occasions. For instance, in our gun laws we’re allowing domestic abusers to sidestep this ban on getting a gun. The loophole allows a convicted abuser to walk into a gun show and walk out with a gun, no questions asked."

PolitiFact New Jersey wondered if it’s that simple for someone who, under federal law isn’t allowed to have a gun, to buy one.

"Yes," said James Jacobs, director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law, it’s "that simple."

Lautenberg was describing what is commonly known as the "gun show loophole." The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or Brady Act, requires all federally licensed firearms dealers to run a background check on potential customers to ensure they are not prohibited from owning a gun.

But private sellers without a federal license don’t have to meet the same requirement. Though this exception is known as the "gun show loophole," unlicensed individuals don’t have to perform background checks whether they are selling a gun at a gun show or somewhere else.

"Of course, a prohibited possessor can also buy from a private party outside of a gun show with no paperwork or background check," said Gabriel Chin, professor of law at the University of California at Davis School of Law. "But the trick is that many of the private sellers at gun shows are really unlicensed full time dealers, so they may be selling scores or hundreds of guns a year with no paperwork.  Because of the volume, they are much more reliable sources of firearms for prohibited possessors."

As a result of the loophole, "it’s possible a convicted felon could go into a gun show and buy a firearm without ever being checked," said Chris Bombardiere, public information officer at the Newark Field Division of the  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

That isn’t possible everywhere, however, since some states have passed more restrictive gun laws. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 17 states, including New Jersey, "have either closed the gun show loophole or have taken action to close the loophole."

Our ruling

Lautenberg said that "in our gun laws we’re allowing domestic abusers to sidestep this ban on getting a gun. The loophole allows a convicted abuser to walk into a gun show and walk out with a gun, no questions asked."

That statement is true because federal law does not require individuals who are not federally licensed to perform background checks before a gun transaction, whether they are at a gun show or not.

Though laws can vary state to state and some states have passed laws that have essentially closed that loophole, this does not diminish Lautenberg’s statement. He was speaking on the Senate floor about federal law.

We rate the statement True.

To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.

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About this statement:

Published: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.

Subjects: Crime, Guns, Women

Sources:

Congressional Record, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, April 26, 2012

C-SPAN, Senate Session, April 26, 2012

Frank R. Lautenberg, Preventing Gun Violence and Crime, accessed May 2, 2012

Interview with Chris Bombardiere, public information officer at the Newark Field Division of the  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, May 2, 2012

Email interview with Gabriel Chin, professor of law at University of California at Davis School of Law, May 2, 2012

Email interview with Becca Knox, director of research for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, May 2, 2012

Email interview with Eugene Volokh, professor of law at UCLA School of Law, May 2, 2012

Email interview with Jim Wright, professor in the department of sociology at the University of Central Florida, May 2, 2012

Email interview with James Jacobs, director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law, May 2, 2012

The Library of Congress, Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, accessed May 2, 2012

The Washington Post, Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by Senate, April 26, 2012

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Firearms Regulation Reference Guide: 2005, accessed May 2, 2012

U.S. Department of Justice, Restrictions on the Possession of Firearms by Individuals Convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence, accessed May 2, 2012

Frank R. Lautenberg, Senators Join Shooting Victims and Family Members to Push for Closing of the Gun Show Loophole, April 21, 2009

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Gun Shows: Brady Checks and Crime Traces, January 1999

Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System: Fact Sheet, accessed May 2, 2012

Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System: Index Brochure, accessed May 2, 2012

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence,  accessed May 2, 2012

Written by: Erin O'Neill
Researched by: Erin O'Neill
Edited by: Caryn Shinske

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