Gun enthusiasts lukewarm on proposed background check legislation
Gun enthusiasts didn’t seem fazed by the gun control legislation being considered in Congress during a gun show Sunday at the Pittsburgh Mills.
The gun show was one of several held each year by the Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association, which draw dozens of gun sellers, buyers and collectors. Sunday’s event was held in the former Best Buy building and featured everything from modern rifles, handguns, antique guns and ammunition to other items such as World War II memorabilia.
The Associated Press reported the U.S. House last week approved a measure requiring federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers and is considering another measure that would extend the review period for background checks from three to 10 days. This is the first major gun control legislation considered by Congress in nearly 25 years.
Political analysts have said the legislation, which passed the House, has little chance of passing the Senate and heading to the president’s desk. Even if it does, President Trump has indicated he may veto the measures.
Phil Dacey, president of the association, said the gun shows are meant to be part of how it furthers education about the sport as well as provide a place for gun owners to come together.
“There’s a lot of questions about if they’ve inherited a gun, if they see something on TV, the history of it, the background of it,” he said. “There’s a lot of curiosity on what something’s worth.”
Dacey said he saw a few people Sunday who had inherited guns and wanted to know how to properly sell them.
He said the vendors all follow state law for the proper sale of guns.
“(Pennsylvania) doesn’t have the ‘gun show loophole’ so much as you hear about the rest of the country,” Dacey said. “Any transfer of a handgun or short-barreled rifle has to go through a licensed dealer that does a background check.”
Dacey said, as a gun dealer, he doesn’t have a problem with universal background checks, but he does think there needs to be better compliance with current laws.
“The issue seems to be that a lot of states and a lot of government agencies aren’t keeping up their end of the (background checks),” he said. “I think, if they keep up with their duties under the current law, I think that would really take care of a lot of the problems.”
Terry Hollis and Rich Whiteside were at the gun show representing the group Firearms Owners Against Crime, which works to protect the Second Amendment and gun owners’ rights.
“You’ve already got many laws on the books,” Hollis said. “A lot of it is the human element.”
The pair said responsible gun sellers and buyers will follow the law and do the required background checks and not sell to someone who gives any reason for concern.
Whiteside said he doesn’t think any further gun control laws would prevent tragedies such as mass shootings from happening.
“It’s not gun violence,” Whiteside said. “It’s just violence.”
William Marceau III said, as a veteran and someone who works as a corrections officer, he is against the current legislation and doesn’t think it will be effective at preventing crimes.
“The criminals are going to buy them on the street,” he said.
Marceau said he thinks there should be more punishment for people who know they aren’t going to pass a background check but try to buy a gun anyway.
“Charge people who try to buy guns and are denied,” he said. “(Right now) they get to walk out the door.”
Many people in attendance had no interest in getting involved in the politics of selling or owning a gun. Many said they were there just to look for ammo or a new gun and were trying to get out of their house ahead of the predicted snowfall.
“The gun shows are social events, first of all,” said Mike Sauers. “It’s something to look forward to.”
Tim Myers of Mars was checking out an antique gun display to possibly add to his collection.
“I’m mostly an old gun kind of guy,” he said. “I like the way things were made (back then).”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .