[Congressional Record Volume 145, Number 2 (Thursday, January 7, 1999)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E49]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, January 6, 1999

  Mr. BLAGOJEVICH. Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of 25 of my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reintroduce the Gun Show 
Safety & Accountability Act, the nation's first legislation aimed at 
closing a deadly loophole that allows criminals to purchase firearms at 
gun shows without undergoing Brady background checks.
  While it is unfortunate that my bill was not acted upon by the 105th 
Congress, it is our hope that with new leadership and a showing of bi-
partisan support, the 106th Congress will pass this legislation and 
help me to cut off the deadly supply of firearms to violent criminals 
that result in the countless deaths of innocent American citizens every 
  When a person buys a handgun from a gun store, they must fill out a 
Brady Form, undergo a background check, show proof of identification 
and a record of the sale is also kept. What most people don't know is 
that a loophole in the federal law allows that same person to buy a 
handgun at a gun show without doing any of these things.
  The gun show loophole has created a situation that is both dangerous 
and unfair. It allows gun show participants to sell guns with little, 
if any, legal obligation to insure that they aren't putting deadly 
weapons into the hands of violent criminals or juveniles. Furthermore, 
it creates unfair business competition between law-abiding gun store 
owners whose time-consuming background checks and sales records are 
much less attractive to potential customers than a quick purchase from 
a gun show participant.
  Hundreds of thousands of firearms are sold at gun shows every year, 
and experts believe participation to be on the rise. As gun shows have 
grown, so has evidence illustrating that a lack of regulation is 
creating a black market for violent criminals. Knowing that background 
checks would prevent them from buying guns from a gun store, criminals 
have found that they can obtain unlimited numbers of firearms at gun 
shows with ease. Because no sales records are kept at gun shows, these 
firearms can be resold on the street and used in crimes without being 
  A one-year study conducted by the Illinois State Police indicated 
that at least 25 percent of illegally trafficked firearms used in 
crimes originate at gun shows, and national news accounts indicate 
similar situations across the nation. Most recently, a 17-year-old 
Kentucky boy shot and killed another youth with a handgun that he told 
police he was able to purchase at a gun show with cash, no waiting 
period, and ``no questions asked.'' In Florida, an escaped prison 
inmate was even able to purchase a handgun at a gun show.
  As the link between guns used in crimes and gun shows grows, it makes 
sense that our nation should be rewarding gun store owners for taking 
time to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals--not 
penalizing them. As stated by Bill Bridgewater, former executive 
director of the National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers, ``The Grand 
Bazaar approach that we now have ensures that every pugnacious child 
with a grudge to settle and every other form of human predator have 
easy access to all the firearms that they might desire, while the 
legitimate firearms dealer is saddled with more and more onerous 
  Aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals and 
bringing fairness and accountability to gun shows without creating new, 
onerous restrictions, the ``Gun Show Safety & Accountability Act'' is a 
fair and reasonable solution. By requiring gun store owners and gun 
show participants to comply with the same laws, the bill would promote 
fair business competition, while cutting off a deadly supply of 
firearms to our nation's dangerous criminals.
  I urge my colleagues to make public safety a priority this Congress 
and join me in cosponsoring this groundbreaking piece of legislation.