A California researcher on gun violence is pushing to ban “private party” sales at gun shows after documenting that troublesome transactions in other states are behind an apparent pipeline of guns used in crimes in California, reports the Sacramento Bee. The findings by Dr. Garen Wintemute of UC Davis Medical Center, published in the journal Injury Prevention, bolster recent suspicions among law enforcement officials in Sacramento that guns linked to crimes here came from gun shows in states such as Nevada and Arizona, where weapons laws are looser than California’s.
Sacramento Police Chief Albert Nájera said his “gut feeling” was some of these guns came from Nevada gun shows. The study by Wintemute was based on observations at more than two dozen gun shows he attended in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida from April 2005 through March 2006. Wintemute said the findings, while limited in scope, represent the first academic study on gun shows in the country. Wintemute documented 24 so-called “straw purchases” — purchases usually made on behalf of individuals who cannot legally own a gun. “These transactions allow for prohibited persons … access to guns — no questions asked,” Wintemute said. “States and the federal government should take another look at the wisdom of these undocumented purchases.” Wintemute reported that about 70 percent of gun dealers he came across were not licensed, and that private party sales appeared to be about equal to the number of sales made via licensed gun dealers. More than 4,000 gun shows are held across the U.S. each year.