A recent study comparing gun shows in California (a state that regulates gun shows and private firearm transfers) with gun shows in states with little to no such regulation found that at gun shows in states with less regulation, straw purchases were more common, armed attendees selling guns were more common, and vendors were more likely to sell assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles.1

A study by ATF found that 25% to 50% of gun show vendors are unlicensed.2

ATF reviewed over 1,500 of its investigations and concluded that gun shows are a “major trafficking channel,” associated with approximately 26,000 firearms diverted from legal to illegal commerce. Gun shows rank second to corrupt dealers as a source for illegally trafficked firearms.3

From 2004 – 2006, ATF conducted 202 investigative operations at 195 guns shows, or roughly 3% of the gun shows held nationwide during this period. These operations resulted in 121 arrests and the seizure of 5,345 firearms.4

For additional information about gun shows, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Gun Shows Policy Summary.

  1. Wintemute, Garen J., Gun Shows Across a Multistate American Gun Market: Observational Evidence of the Effects of Regulatory Policies, 13 Inj. Prevention 150, 154-155 (2007), at “http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/13/3/150. ⤴︎
  2. U.S. Department of Justice & Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Gun Shows: Brady Checks and Crime Gun Traces 4 (Jan. 1999). ⤴︎
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Commerce in Firearms in the United States xi, 1, 12 (Feb. 2000). ⤴︎
  4. Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Investigative Operations at Gun Shows i, iv-v (June 2007). ⤴︎