Vendors at local gun show react to idea of universal background checks

As the gun control debate continues to capture national attention, some are focusing on expanding background checks as an answer to the problem of gun violence in the U.S., but is it practical?

Currently, federally-licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on buyers before selling them a gun.

Now, some want to see that requirement expanded to private dealers, including those at gun shows.

The director of the Onalaska Gun Show, Bob Pucci, says out of all the ideas circulating in Washington, universal background checks legislation would be the most likely to pass.

He says the problem is it would be very difficult for federal agencies to keep up with that many added background checks.


“They have no idea if they pass a universal background check on how they’re going to enforce it. They don’t have enough man power. The big problem we have now is if you want to buy a gun and do a background check, some of these guys are waiting an hour an hour and a half to get the background check done,” said Pucci.

Despite the challenges, one gun vendor Tom Hardell, from the state says he thinks it’s a good idea to add the checks so that private dealers know their guns aren’t getting into the wrong hands.

“You don’t know if they’re criminals or not. This way the seller knows if he’s a criminal by doing a background check. He could be a felon. He could be illegal. This way he knows where his gun is going to go because all the criminals are getting guns from the streets from private individuals,” said Hardell.

Currently, private dealers do not have access to the National Instant Background Check System, which would allow them to run a background check.

That’s why the Department of Justice released a letter a few months ago asking licensed dealers to help private sellers run those checks before selling a gun.

So far, federal lawmakers have not voted on any of the proposed changes in gun laws.