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Research Group Says Gun Shows Attract Criminals, Militia Groups

Gun shows have proliferated in America and are attracting more criminals than ever before, according to a study released Wednesday.

What’s more, the study says the shows have become a primary recruiting ground for anti-government activists and militia members.

“Many people who attend gun shows are law-abiding, legitimate gun enthusiasts,” said Rep. Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y. “Unfortunately, side by side with these legitimate users is a bustling crowd of criminals, illegal gun dealers, and right-wing extremists who often thumb their noses at the law.”

The study, “Gun Shows in America: Tupperware Parties for Criminals,” says the increase has resulted from the 1986 Firearms Owner Protection Act, also known as the McClure-Volkmer Act, which allowed federal firearms license holders to sell guns at shows in their home state. It also allowed individuals not federally licensed as gun dealers to sell their personal firearms as a hobby.

These supposed hobbyists “are not bound by the same laws as licensed dealers, Schumer said.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, maintains no records on the number of gun shows and can only offer a rough estimate of 2,000 each year, the study says.

The Violence Policy Center conducts research on violence in America and supports handgun control.

The study was derived mostly of interviews with law enforcement personnel and gun show organizers over a six-week period earlier this year.

Although there are no comparable numbers for 10 years ago - before the act - most of those interviewed said the number of shows has increased drastically, Rand said.

The 72-page study describes several connections between militia movements and gun shows. For example, it says at least one member of Arizona’s Viper Militia was known to have frequented gun shows and the group may have derived their name from “OPLAN, American Viper,” a blueprint for overthrowing the government which has been circulating at gun shows across the country.