Undercover Arizona Gun Show Probe: Semi-Automatic Weapons, No Background Check

NYC investigation of Arizona gun show finds weapons easily obtained.

Jan. 31, 2011 — -- A New York City undercover investigation at a Phoenix, Ariz., gun show found that despite the mass murder and apparent assassination attempt of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month in which a semi-automatic handgun with an extended clip was used, buyers who likely wouldn't pass a background check can still easily purchase similar weapons.

In two instances, captured on video, private sellers were willing to sell a semi-automatic handgun to uncover investigators who told them they "probably couldn't pass" a background check.

The sellers were willing "to break the law and endanger their fellow citizens just to make a quick sale," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today.

The investigation, conducted by the nationally recognized private investigative firm Kroll Inc. at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Ariz., also found a Glock pistol capable of firing 33 rounds -- similar to the one allegedly used by Jared Loughner in the Tucson shooting that claimed six lives earlier this month -- was legally purchased without any background check.

The purchase exposed a "dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws," Bloomberg said.

CLICK HERE to see the full investigative report at GunShowUndercover.org.

In the instances in which the buyers said they likely would not pass a background check, the omission should have immediately stopped the sale, officials said, because even though unlicensed occasional sellers are not required to run background checks using the FBI database, it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers.

High capacity magazines were purchased three times during the investigation, along with the three weapons, a city official said.

ATF: 30 Percent of Federal Illegal Gun Trafficking Connected to Gun Shows

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected to gun shows. Because no records are kept, guns sold by private sellers at gun shows become virtually untraceable.

Bloomberg, a cofounder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has been aggressive in prescribing numerous changes to lax gun laws and loopholes -- notably the gun show loophole, and other loopholes in the private sale and resale of weapons.

"It is a loophole that you can drive a truck through," New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said.

On January 24th Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced support from a broad range of leaders from Arizona for its two-step plan they said would fix the national gun background check system and fulfill the intent of the historic 1968 gun law that was passed in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Under the proposed plan, no gun sale would be possible without a background check and all relevant records would be archived in the background check database.

Since 1968 and the passage of the first gun control laws, 400,000 Americans have lost their lives to handgun violence, Bloomberg said.

If President Barack Obama were able to usher in improved efforts to prevent the sale of guns to people with a history of crime, mental illness or drug abuse, he would be assured a "great legacy," Bloombeg said today.

Jared Loughner, the man accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others, in the apparent assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on Jan. 8 legally purchased a similar Glock semi-automatic pistol from a gun store in Tucson months before the shooting.

Loughner passed an FBI background check, despite teachers, friends and students repeatedly claiming the 22-year-old displayed erratic, disturbing behavior. When he was suspended from Arizona's Pima Community College, the school said he would have to undergo a mental evaluation before he would be allowed back in. Instead, Loughner dropped out and purchased the semi-automatic pistol a short time later.