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May 14, 1999

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“The new Senate Republican bill is riddled with high-caliber loopholes...it makes no sense to let criminals continue to use legitimate gun shows as a convenience store for their weapons.”

President Bill Clinton
May 14, 1999

Today, in Washington, President Clinton urged the Senate to close the gun show loophole and pass a measure requiring background checks for all gun purchases at gun shows. The President expressed his disappointment in the Senate today for failing to do so, and for creating additional dangerous loopholes in our gun laws. He also commended the Senate for passing two important gun control measures contained in his gun legislation.

Urging the Senate to “Do the Right Thing” on Gun Shows. The President expressed his disappointment in the Senate for failing to close the gun show loophole, and for creating additional dangerous loopholes in our gun laws. The Hatch-Craig Amendment passed by the Senate today:

  • Fails to fix the gun show loophole. Brady background checks will not be required for all gun sales at gun shows. This amendment specifically exempts certain sellers from conducting mandatory background checks.
  • Creates a new pawnshop loophole for felons. Current law would be rolled back to exempt firearms redemptions at pawnshops from Brady background checks. The Treasury Department estimates that persons who redeem guns at pawnshops are more than 3 times as likely to be prohibited purchasers than those who buy guns from gun dealers.
  • Thwarts tracing of all crime guns sold at gun shows. This amendment seriously undermines federal law enforcement's ability to trace firearms later used in crimes, and to ensure that gun sellers comply with all state and local laws.
  • Undermines law enforcement's ability to complete background checks. Under this measure, Brady background checks at gun shows must be completed within 24 hours -- considerably less than the 3 days the FBI is allowed under current law.

The President urged the Senate to “do right by the American people” and reconsider this measure when all members are present for a vote.

The Gun Show Loophole. Last year, there were more than 4,000 gun shows across the country, as well as flea markets and other events where guns can be traded anonymously. An estimated 25-50% of the sellers at gun shows are unlicensed, and guns sold by these unlicensed sellers are not subject to background checks. As a result, gun shows can provide a loophole for prohibited purchasers to obtain guns with no questions asked.

Endorsing Common-Sense Measures. President Clinton endorsed Senate passage of two important gun control measures yesterday that were part of his package:

  • A ban on juvenile possession of semiautomatic assault rifles and large capacity magazines; and
  • A ban on the importation of all large capacity ammunition magazines.

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