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Thread: Pinellas sheriff to revive enforcement of county law closing 'gun-show loophole

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    Pinellas sheriff to revive enforcement of county law closing 'gun-show loophole

    Pinellas sheriff to revive enforcement of county law closing 'gun-show loophole

    Peter Jamison, Times Staff Writer

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Tuesday announced plans to strictly enforce a county law mandating background checks for all customers at gun shows, asserting local control in an area that has stubbornly resisted state and federal regulation.

    Gualtieri's initiative comes in response to a Tampa Bay Times story last month on the ineffectiveness of local laws closing the so-called "gun-show loophole." The Times reported that while seven of Florida's most populous counties — including Pinellas and Hillsborough — have ordinances requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows, the laws are largely ignored.

    According to Gualtieri, that will no longer be the case in Pinellas County. He said that Sheriff's Office deputies, after extensive consultation with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, plan to monitor upcoming gun shows either in uniform or through undercover operations.

    "We're going to make sure the ordinance is enforced," Gualtieri said. "The last thing in the world that I want to see, and I hope anyone wants to see, is a firearm fall into the hands of a person who's prohibited by law from possessing one."

    The first gun show to be monitored will be held this weekend at the Minnreg Building in Largo. Organizer Guy Lemakos, a licensed St. Petersburg gun dealer, said he plans to personally perform background checks on behalf of the roughly 25 private vendors at the show, which will feature 120 vendors overall.

    Lemakos said he would follow whatever guidelines the Sheriff's Office gives him on complying with the local regulations, but that he thinks the ordinance is poorly conceived and unfairly requires gun-show organizers to police their vendors. He said he would prefer that background checks be run directly by law enforcement, but that agencies have rejected his request that they do so.

    "I'll do what I have to do, but I'm uncomfortable with it, because I'm not a cop," he said. "It's not the responsibility of a gun-show owner to enforce the law."

    On Monday, Gualtieri sent Lemakos a letter to "remind" him of his vendors' responsibilities under the ordinance.

    "We hope there will be voluntary compliance with Pinellas County's background check law and that enforcement of the ordinance will not be necessary," the sheriff wrote.

    Gualtieri said he hopes that gun show vendors and organizers will willingly follow the law, which requires that unlicensed firearms sellers — who are not regulated by state or federal law — run background checks on their customers. The checks are supposed to be processed through third-party, licensed gun dealers, who have access to a federal database of criminal and mental-health records.

    Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ken Welch praised the sheriff's effort, saying he and Gualtieri had discussed how to enforce the gun-show ordinance in the days after the Times story was published last month. Welch said he had been aware the ordinance was on the books, but didn't know that it was not being actively enforced.

    "I commend the sheriff for really taking a proactive stance on this once the information came out," Welch said. "It's not a cure-all, but it is addressing a loophole in the law. I think it's just another step to have reasonable laws for gun safety."

    In 1998, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported a state constitutional amendment that allowed counties to require background checks for private gun sales on "property to which the public has the right of access," language that targeted gun shows.

    The vote was influenced by Hank Earl Carr, a convicted felon from Tampa who acquired guns despite his criminal record. In May 1998, Carr fatally shot a 4-year-old boy, two Tampa police officers and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper before killing himself.

    Federally licensed gun dealers who appear at shows must run background checks on buyers. However, the expositions also tend to attract private sellers, who are not regulated under any state or federal law and can thus sell to customers without checking their criminal histories.

    Today, seven Florida counties encompassing close to half the state's population — Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Volusia — have ordinances closing the gun-show loophole.

    Despite the fanfare that attended the 1998 state constitutional amendment and later passage of the ordinances, the laws have been virtually unenforced in those counties, the Times found last month.

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    Have to wonder if the FFL's have a hand in this. Either they force the private sellers underground or out of business, or they make money by charging for their services.
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
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    Sponsor brownie's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like it's the dealers having any input in this matter. It's a response from the sheriff for the law not being changed to close the loop hole
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    Member puck's Avatar
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    I may be way off base but would this fall under pre-emption. If so wouldn't the county laws be illegal.
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    Distinguished Member TitleIIToyLover's Avatar
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    The article lists seven counties that allegedly have an ordnance. Anyone know if the list is accurate? I thought Orange did and Volusia didn't.

    "Today, seven Florida counties encompassing close to half the state's population — Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Volusia — have ordinances closing the gun-show loophole."
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    Distinguished Member Brian75's Avatar
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    Want to close the "gun show loop hole" and stop law abiding from selling to felons inadvertently. Tattoo FELON in bright letters on the face of those who lost their right to a firearm before releasing them from prison. It would stop the law abiding citizen from selling to a felon unknowingly in a private sale and be an instant background check. No need to worry about fake ID's or an alias.
    If you walk out of your house carrying your gun and you DO NOT fully understand the law, then you are NOT completely armed.

    Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that, in the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face. ---- Olmstead v U.S.

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    Distinguished Member Rich7553's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puck View Post
    I may be way off base but would this fall under pre-emption. If so wouldn't the county laws be illegal.
    The Florida Constitution supersedes Florida Statute. The preemption statute, 790.33, acknowledges that fact. Article VIII, Section 5b of the constitution authorizes counties to enforce a local option of a 3 - 5 day waiting period and to require background checks on all sales of firearms which occur in whole or in part on property to which the public has right of access. CWFL holders are exempt.
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    Distinguished Member Rich7553's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdog21 View Post
    "We're going to make sure the ordinance is enforced," Gualtieri said. "The last thing in the world that I want to see, and I hope anyone wants to see, is a firearm fall into the hands of a person who's prohibited by law from possessing one."
    Well, then the deputies time would be better spent on the streets since the DoJ cites fewer than 1% of crime guns originate at gun shows.
    Rich
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    Super Moderator edgehill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TitleIIToyLover View Post
    The article lists seven counties that allegedly have an ordnance. Anyone know if the list is accurate? I thought Orange did and Volusia didn't.

    "Today, seven Florida counties encompassing close to half the state's population — Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Volusia — have ordinances closing the gun-show loophole."
    I know Broward is accurate. Section 18-97 requires background checks on all gun sales when the sale is conducted on property to which the public has the right of access. Section 18-98 exempts concealed carry licenses from the check.
    "Our civilization is still in a middle stage, no longer wholly guided by instinct, not yet wholly guided by reason." Theodore Dreiser, American author (1871-1945)

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    Quote Originally Posted by edgehill View Post
    I know Broward is accurate. Section 18-97 requires background checks on all gun sales when the sale is conducted on property to which the public has the right of access. Section 18-98 exempts concealed carry licenses from the check.
    So you can come to my residence or I to you, but we can't meet in the parking lot of a gun shop, convenience store etc.

    Glad I live in Az.
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