Pasco group asks for stricter gun laws

Asking county leaders to close 'gun show loophole'

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - At gun shows and flea markets, you can buy and sell guns with no background checks and no waiting period.

Several years ago, an attempt to change that so-called loophole failed. But now the massacre in Newtown inspired one group to try again.

"It's a no-brainer. This needs to be passed," said Pasco Democratic Party Chairman Lynn Linderman.

Linderman sent a letter to Pasco County Commissioners. In it, he urges them to end what he calls the  "gun show loophole."

"I don't' want to see a child be buried in Pasco County or a parent go through the agony that I saw the parents go through in Newtown because a person who was not allowed to under the law, use a loophole at a gun show to buy a firearm," said he said.

State law does require back ground checks and a three day waiting period of for those buying handguns at retail shops like Firing Line Gun Range in Port Richey.

But Florida's Constitution allows individual counties to vote on whether more regulations are put in place for sales at gun shows, flea markets and between private citizens.

Linderman says surrounding counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hernando have already passed stricter laws. "And here's Pasco County right in the center of these other counties, with this loophole, that not only endangers our residents, but endangers their residents and citizens."

Republican State Committeeman Bill Bunting is the group's 2nd Amendment Chair. He says there are already more than enough gun control regulations on the books and he's against passing any more.

"If I'm going to sell you a barrel of a gun in a restaurant and you were a collector and someone overheard us, and we didn't get a background check, we'd be guilty of a felony (if the law is passed)."

While there are some flea markets in Pasco County where guns are sold, there haven't been very man gun shows in the area. There is one scheduled for early March at the Fairgrounds.

The County Commission voted on regulating sales at gun shows in 1999, but the ordinance did not pass.

"When we did have gun shows here in Pasco, we had judges at the show, we had elected officials and the reason it was knocked down, we've had zero problems. There wasn't one incident in Pasco County that came from having a gun show in Pasco County," said Bunting.

"It's not taking anyway anybody's right to own a gun, it's ensuring that people who should legally own guns have the right," said Linderman.

Despite the letter urging commissioners to act on the gun show loophole, it didn't come up at Tuesday's board meeting.

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