LARGO, Fla. - The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office plans to monitor a gun show this weekend as they increase enforcement of an ordinance that closes the so-called "gun show loophole."
For 11 years, tables have gone up inside the Minnreg Hall in Largo, but this weekend, someone new will stop by.
"They're probably not going to see them. They're not going to know who they are, probably," explained Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "It's not going to be uniformed deputies. It will be undercover personnel."
Sheriff Gualtieri plans to send deputies to the gun show starting Saturday. They'll watch others buy guns and may even buy a gun themselves, all to see if vendors are obeying a law they recently learned not many were following.
"I really couldn't care less, because they'll probably be bored to death," explained Two Guys Shows organizer Guy Lemakos. "No one ever brought it to our attention. No one ever enforced it. No one ever brought it up."
According to Lemakos, few vendors ever knew about the ordinance, and no one really enforced it. It requires background checks on private sales of guns if the exchange happens where the public has access.
"Making sure that convicted robber, burglar, rapist doesn't get the gun is a good thing for everybody," Sheriff Gualtieri said. "We want to make sure we don't end up in an absolutely ridiculous, ludicrous scenario where people are manipulating the system."
Lemakos is happy to perform background checks on buyers but he's uncomfortable telling private sellers what to do with their personal property. He says he knows most of the people who frequent his shows, and calls them moral, upstanding citizens.
"And that question is, 'Does the government have the authority to tell you what you can and cannot do with your personal property?'" he said.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office plans to continue gun show checks indefinitely, citing public safety.
Lemakos is angered by the recent gun show loophole frenzy, which he calls a red herring. He welcomes the presence of law enforcement, but believes they're wasting their time.
"Personally, I'm sick and tired of the general public assuming that gun show people are responsible for this," Lemakos said.
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