New rules on gun-show sales work­ing, county of­fi­cials say

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Stephen Hu­dak

An Orange County or­di­nance crafted to tighten firearm sales at gun shows and flea mar­kets is func­tion­ing as hoped, county com­mis­sion­ers were told this week.

“In to­tal, it seems like every­thing is work­ing,” said As­sis­tant County At­tor­ney Saw­son Mo­hi­ud­din, who pro­vided an up­date on the mea­sure adopted in May.

But prob­lems re­main with the or­di­nance, de­signed to close the so-called “gun-show loop­hole,” now re­quir­ing a pri­vate seller of a firearm to screen the eli­gi­bil­ity of a prospec­tive buyer be­fore strik­ing a deal at a gun show or flea mar­ket.

A na­tional crim­i­nal back­ground check in Florida is avail­able only to a fed­er­ally li­censed gun dealer.

The Florida De­part­ment of Law En­force­ment con­ducts the checks for $5 each but isn’t re­quired to do them for un­li­censed sell­ers — and doesn’t, agency spokes­woman An­gela Starke said.

Shoot Straight, Cen­tral Florida’s largest firearms dealer, stepped in to run back­ground checks for un­li­censed sell­ers at both gun shows held in Orange County since com­mis­sion­ers passed the or­di­nance in May, Mo­hi­ud­din said. But they don’t have to. Com­mis­sioner Betsy Van­der­ley said she’s happy how it’s go­ing.

“I’m re­ally glad things are work­ing out and there is a spirit of co­op­er­a­tion in that in­dus­try for the pri­vate sell­ers,” Van­der­ley said. “We have put th­ese pri­vate sell­ers at the mercy of es­sen­tially and, thank­fully, will­ing and help­ful li­censed deal­ers but there’s noth­ing manda­tory that they have to con­tinue to do it.”

Calls to Shoot Straight’s cor­po­rate of­fices weren’t re­turned.

The new rule also re­quires sell­ers at a gun show or a flea mar­ket to com­ply with Florida’s three-day wait­ing pe­riod that separates the sale of a firearm from de­liv­ery, when a dealer hands the gun to the buyer. A de­lay al­lows au­thor­i­ties to block gun sales to felons.

Mo­hi­ud­din said Or­lando po­lice and Orange County deputy sher­iffs have re­ported no vi­o­la­tions of the new rules.

The county or­di­nance di­rected un­li­censed sell­ers to meet the rules’ re­quire­ments by re­quest­ing the as­sis­tance of a fed­er­ally li­censed gun dealer. The county has no other op­tion avail­able, spokes­woman Doreen Over­street said.

Florida Gun Shows, which stages firearms ex­hi­bi­tions through­out the state, an­nounced the county’s new rules dur­ing shows in May and July at the Orange County Fair­grounds in Or­lando, gun-show man­ager Kim Treat said.

A third gun show is set for Aug. 18-19 at the fair­grounds.

She said or­ga­niz­ers also handed out fliers to alert at­ten­dees that un­li­censed pri­vate sales were no longer per­mit­ted in­side the premises be­cause of the new or­di­nance.

A pri­vate sale at the show now re­quires the as­sis­tance of some­one with a fed­eral firearms li­cense is­sued by the Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives.

Treat said Shoot Straight and other fed­er­ally li­censed dealer have aided pri­vate sales at the shows, charg­ing $15 or $20 to cover the cost of the re­quired FDLE check, re­view­ing pa­per­work and some­times hold­ing the gun for three days.

The county or­di­nance doesn’t pre­vent an un­li­censed gun-owner from sell­ing the firearm from home with­out con­duct­ing a back­ground check of the buyer or ob­serv­ing the wait­ing pe­riod.

Com­mis­sion­ers drew fire from some res­i­dents and gun en­thu­si­asts af­ter pass­ing the or­di­nance.

An email sent to the board and signed “Con­cerned Orange County res­i­dent” vowed to “en­cour­age ev­ery­one I know to join me, to stop the re-elec­tion of you or any com­mis­sion­ers that vote for th­ese gun-con­trol mea­sures.”

“Nei­ther of th­ese laws would have done any­thing to stop any ac­tive shooter oc­cur­rences in the past,” the email said. “Bad guys that are will­ing to rob and com­mit mur­der don't care about th­ese laws and will get their guns re­gard­less.”

But the rules, which passed unan­i­mously, won praise from An­drea Halperin, an Or­lando mom and lo­cal leader of Moms De­mand Ac­tion for Gun Sense in Amer­ica. She said back­ground checks have blocked gun sales to pro­hib­ited buy­ers.

“Any­time you pre­vent some­body who shouldn’t have a gun from get­ting a gun — whether it’s one per­son or 20 peo­ple — that’s a good thing for the safety of cit­i­zens of Florida,” Halperin said.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Ja­cobs, in her fi­nal year as mayor and now run­ning for county School Board chair, called for the or­di­nance in the wake of the mass shoot­ing Feb. 14 at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land.

Niko­las Cruz, a for­mer stu­dent, is charged with killing 17 peo­ple at the school near Fort Laud­erdale.

The three-month re­view of the county or­di­nance was re­quired be­cause of a clause added by com­mis­sion­ers.

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