UNDERCOVER | WDRB buys a gun in 40 seconds without a background check
As crimes involving guns continue to be a problem in Louisville, WDRB is finding out the process to get a gun both with and without a background check.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – As crimes involving guns continue to be a problem in Louisville, WDRB is figuring out the process to get a gun both with and without a background check.
At a recent gun show at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, WDRB's Travis Ragsdale went undercover to find out how gun sales at the shows work.
What we found was that purchasing a gun during a gun show can take as little as 40 seconds. A man selling a number of rifles, shotguns and handguns originally wanted $185 for a .38 caliber revolver. The price was negotiated down to $125. From the time the price was agreed upon to the time Ragsdale walked out the door was just 40 seconds.
The seller never asked what the gun would be used for or asked for a driver license. A background check was never run, but Ragsdale was asked if he was 21. And this sale is perfectly legal in Kentucky.
“Only about half of all the gun sales in the United States are done pursuant to a background check,” said U.S. Representatives (KY-3) (D) John Yarmuth.
Yarmuth pushed for universal background check following a mass shooting at a night club in Orlando in June.
“The millions and millions of unrestricted gun purchases that happen in this country contribute to the deaths and crimes that are committed,” he said.
Yarmuth believes background checks should be run on every person who tries to buy a gun in the United States.
Right now, in Kentucky and Indiana, person-to-person purchases are legal, maening a private individual can sell to another individual, no matter the circumstances, without needing a background check on the buyer.
“There is a lot of natural interest in doing something,” Yarmuth said in creating a law requiring universal background checks. “I don't know how big a dent, but it can make a dent.”
Law enforcement officials say, however, that criminals are most often getting their guns via another source.
“The majority of guns used in crimes, according to the ATF, are purchased by way of a person who can legally purchase a gun,” said Louisville Metro Police chief Steve Conrad.
It’s called a straw purchase, when one person with a clean background and ability to buy a gun buys one from a dealer for someone who would otherwise not be able to.
“If we get any indication that they are buying the gun for someone else or for a purpose we wouldn't accept, then we will just decline to sell them the firearm,” said Eric Norris, managing member of Genesys Tactical in Crestwood.
Any store that sells firearms for profit is required by law to be the holder of a Federal Firearms License (FFL), as issued by the ATF. Those holding an FFL are required to run a background check on anyone trying to purchase a gun.
“We don't get any criminal history or anything like that," Norris said. "We just get the final answer."
The final answers that come back from the system are “proceed”, “delay” or “deny”. If the store gets a “delay,” there is a three-day waiting period. If the store hasn’t heard back in that time frame, the store can still sell the gun to that person.
“It's always a concern,” Norris said. “We don't ever want to sell to someone who would go out and use that firearm for a bad purpose.”
For some, those sort of background checks can come back almost instantaneously. And some law makers would like to see similar background checks done for all gun purchases.
“To make sure that guns don't fall into the hands of terrorists or convicted felon, we need to make sure every purchase is done pursuant to a background check,” Yarmuth said.
But others say that would be far too much.
“I do think there's absolute value in running background checks, and I don't want to see that eliminated,” Norris said.
“I just want to careful with how far of reach the government has into our lives.”
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