The Gun Show Loophole that has Become a Noose

One of the biggest public health crises in America is gun violence. After the Charleston massacre, I personally was hoping for a more thorough debate of the gun laws in this country. I have been disappointed, to say the least. As impassioned as people have been about the Confederate battle flag–and I agree it is a symbol of hate and has no place in government speech–why are we so complacent when it comes to the tool used to take the lives of nine innocent people? An idea did not take nine people’s lives. They were not killed with a flag. The FBI did not kill those people. A person with a gun did. Period.

There is a new documentary on HBO called “Requiem for the Dead:American Spring 2014.” This stirring film is “made entirely from found footage, including social media posts, 9-1-1 calls, news stories and police files.” The movie covers a period of time ranging from March 2014 through July 2014. The number of deaths continues to rise throughout the documentary with the final number being revealed at the end  (Spoiler Alert!!! it is over 8,000). Every Town for Gun Safety (a community of activists seeking to end gun violence in America) reports that an estimated 88 people per day in America die from gunshot wounds–over 37,000 people a year.

That is equivalent to losing the entire population of Clovis, New Mexico, Panama City, Florida, or Hurst, Texas every year. This is an unacceptable tragedy.

Last night, a story surfaced that the FBI was taking responsibility for botching the background check related to the Charleston shooter’s application to purchase a .45 caliber handgun. Unlike what had been previously reported, the shooter did not receive a gun for his birthday; rather, his father gave him $400 to purchase a gun, which he did.

This is not about the FBI. However, it is about the flawed background check process and the general accessibility of firearms in this country. The Charleston shooter would likely not have stopped trying to acquire a firearm just because his formal application had been denied based on his background check. The truth is, he did not need to pass a background check to legally purchase a firearm. He had the option to purchase his gun at a gun show instead. This is known as the “gun show loophole.” And a majority of states do not require any background checks for private seller to private buyer sales at gun shows. South Carolina is one of those states. To see the map, click here.

The last time I attended a gun show, my husband and I had a gun to sell. Luckily, we were able to sell to a dealer and not an individual. But countless people approached us to purchase our hand gun. When we walked in the door, we paid our admission, our gun was checked to make sure it was not loaded and  a zip tie was secured through the chamber. We did not have to show our I.D. or handgun license to enter the gun show with a gun to sell. Individuals without a gun to sell simply paid their admission and walked right in. If you sell your gun at a gun show to another individual, the transaction is as seamless as trading baseball cards. Someone offers you money, you hand the gun over and the transaction is complete.

This sounds crazy, right? Well, it is crazy! With opposition like the NRA, we may not be able to change our gun laws overnight, but we owe it to ourselves to start somewhere. I propose that closing the gun show loophole is a great place to start.

There is an Alan Deutschman quote that is impressed upon all business students in this country: “Change or die.” Unfortunately, this quote applies here. If we do not change the way we approach guns and gun control in this country, our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens will continue to die.

If you are interested in the trailer for “Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014” here it is:

Peace and love.



  1. How should the U.S. model their gun laws? Some would argue that Switzerland has the best gun laws. An extremely high percentage of Swiss men bear arms and they have very low gun violence. Are they less likely to be a victim of gun violence since the aggressor knows there is a high percentage that their target is also armed? Is it due to the fact that they have better gun education? Is it due to strict laws by the Swiss government regarding ammunition? I’d be interested to see the correlations between countries with the lowest gun violence to identify which factors have the most impact on it’s reduction.

    I agree that the gun show loophole should be closed and this is a great starting point, however, criminals will always find a way to arm themselves. In my opinion, the foundation of a solution is always education. US citizens should be subject to better gun education and training. Not only would this reduce the number of deaths, especially accidental, but this would allow citizens to better voice their opinions regarding gun laws instead of blindly jumping on a bandwagon uninformed. Not to mention, the respect one would gain for how powerful and final a pull of the trigger can be.

    Great article!


    1. Thank you for your comment. I was not aware of the Swiss gun culture. That is an interesting point and I look forward to looking into that more.

      You are absolutely right about the education and knowledge base for gun owners should be increased. I live life by the philosophy that 99% of the world’s problems can be solved with education and information.

      As for criminals always finding a way to obtain firearms, you’re right. But studies show that even if the general population arms itself to protect against these types of assaults, the vast majority of the population (excluding military and police officers in my opinion) is not equipped with the skills to adequately defend themselves.

      You’ve given me a lot to thank about. And I hope to hear from you again soon. Cheers!


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