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I frankly was surprised and disappointed at how easy it was.

Attorney General finds "blatant" violations at gun shows

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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, says a statewide undercover operation found blatant and dangerous violations of the state law requiring background checks for gun-buyers. Karen DeWitt has more.

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

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The Attorney General says he sent undercover agents to six gun shows on Long Island and at upstate sales, including ones in Hamburg, Alexander, Saratoga Springs, and Cobleskill. They posed as gun buyers, and told sellers they had mental health problems or had been charged with domestic violence violations, which under law are impediments to purchasing a hand gun. They found that despite disclosing those details, ten different gun dealers waived a background check and sold the agents a weapon.

“I frankly was surprised and disappointed at how easy it was,” said Schneiderman. “No matter how aggressively our investigators asserted the fact that they could not pass background checks.”

The Attorney General is charging the gun sellers who allegedly did not conduct the back ground checks with a violation of New York’s gun laws.  He’s also sent cease and desist letters to the gun show operators, and has subpoenaed them. 

But Schneiderman says under the current law, those accused of illegally selling the guns can only be charged with a misdemeanor.  And there are no penalties for gun show operators if guns are sold without background checks at their events.

“These are the folks who profit from the gun sales and the gun shows and are in the best position to see that the laws are enforced,” said the Attorney General. “And that’s something that needs a legislative fix.”

The Attorney General says he will soon propose a bill to stiffen those penalties and close other loopholes in the law, and has begun talking to state lawmakers about possible sponsorship.

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