May 23, 2013
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office plans to “strictly enforce a county law mandating background checks for all customers at gun shows” and close down private firearms sales between individuals.
Working closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will conduct an undercover operation at the Two Guys Gun Show in Largo, Florida this weekend.
The ATF has conducted numerous investigations of gun shows over the past decade. The ATF and the Justice Department claim gun shows are used by gangs and others, including Mexican drug cartels, to illegally peddle firearms used in murders and other criminal activity.
Seven counties in Florida have attempted to close the so-called gun show loophole by enacting a law requiring background checks of private gun sales.
“We’re going to make sure the ordinance is enforced,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the newspaper earlier this week. “The last thing in the world that I want to see, and I hope anyone wants to see, is a firearm fall into the hands of a person who’s prohibited by law from possessing one.”
Gualtieri sent Two Guys Gun Show organizer Guy Lemakos a letter to “remind” him of private vendors’ of government-mandated responsibilities under the ordinance. Lemakos told The Tampa Bay Times he will personally perform background checks on about 25 private sellers at the show, although he believes guidelines issued by the Sheriff’s office are unfair. Private vendors constitute around 20 percent of sellers at the show.
“I’ll do what I have to do, but I’m uncomfortable with it, because I’m not a cop,” he said. “It’s not the responsibility of a gun show owner to enforce the law.”
The police admit they do not have the resources or manpower to enforce the law. “Manpower is limited,” Hillsborough sheriff’s Col. Donna Lusczynski said.
Democrat Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller told the newspaper he will consider ways to find additional funding for the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office to specifically enforce the background-check law at gun shows.