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Petition Drive Targets Gun Sales “Loophole”

October 28, 2008

St. Paul, MN – A statewide petition drive is underway, calling for changes in the way gun sales are regulated. As Sue Fust, executive director of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota explains, it asks lawmakers to close a loophole that allows some guns to be sold without a background check of the buyer.

"Private sellers don't have to require that the purchaser prove that they are not a prohibited buyer. There's a lot of those kinds of sales that are done at gun shows."

And that, Fust says, means sellers who aren't federally-licensed dealers are not required to check a buyer's record for felony convictions or other acts that would restrict gun ownership.

Advocates for gun owners say that, while they support efforts to reduce gun violence, the efforts shouldn't come at the cost of Americans' right to bear arms. Fust argues that closing the loophole won't affect any qualified buyer, nor would it restrict Second Amendment rights.

"This year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that background checks are an appropriate way for communities to keep themselves safe from gun violence. This in no way takes away the rights of legal and law-abiding gun owners."

A University of Minnesota poll indicates more than 80 percent support for requiring unlicensed sellers to conduct background checks. The loophole, Fust believes, puts the public at risk.

"The concern about this is that it's very easy to go to a legal venue and purchase a gun, if you are someone who is prohibited from purchasing a gun. The implication for safety is just horrendous."

The goal of the petition drive is to collect 1,000 signatures, to demonstrate to state and federal lawmakers and the Governor that there's strong support for closing the gun-buyer loophole.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN