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PR- 036-11
January 31, 2011


Two Sellers Sold Guns to Undercover Buyers, Even After Buyers Said "I probably couldn't pass a background check"

Previous Investigation Yields Major Changes

New Undercover Video Available at

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the results of a New York City undercover investigation of gun sales at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Arizona. The investigation proves on video how easy it is to obtain firearms with high capacity magazines at gun shows, even for those who tell sellers that they probably couldn't pass a background check.  A Glock pistol with a 33-round extended magazine, like the weapon used in Tucson, was legally purchased with no background check - exposing a dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws. Two other semi-automatic pistols were purchased with no checks even after sellers were told by undercover buyers that they probably could not pass a background check; under federal law the sellers should have stopped the sale. The videos are available at:  The Mayor also announced that the City's first undercover investigation of gun shows had led to several major developments, including the seizure of 799 guns from a so-called "occasional seller" and improvements in policy at some gun shows.

"We have demonstrated how easy it is for anyone to buy a semiautomatic handgun and a high capacity magazine, no questions asked," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This country must take two simple steps to stop more of the 34 murders that occur with guns every day: make every gun sale subject to a background check, and make sure the background check system has all the required records in it.  Congress should act now, but gun show operators shouldn't wait.  They can do the right thing today by making sure that every gun sale at their shows is subject to a background check. Four of the seven gun shows we investigated in 2009 have agreed to make that reform, and there is no doubt it will save lives."

Investigators Bought Glock in a Legal Sale with No Checks

On January 23, 2011, undercover investigators working for the City of New York attended the Crossroads of the World gun show in Phoenix. One investigator purchased a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic pistol without a background check. Because the gun dealer is a private seller and not a federally licensed firearms dealer, no background check was required and the transaction was apparently legal, assuming the seller was, in fact, an "occasional seller." This gap in federal law that enables private sellers to sell guns without background checks is sometimes called the Gun Show Loophole because such sellers congregate at gun shows. The investigator also purchased 33-round extended magazines for the Glock from a separate seller - also legal because the 1994 law that banned such sales expired in 2004.

Gun shows have been found to be major sources of guns used in crimes. According to the ATF, 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.

Investigators Bought Two Other Guns with No Checks, Even After Undercover Buyers Said, "I Probably Couldn't Pass a Background Check"

Two private sellers failed integrity tests by illegally selling guns to an undercover investigator.  Each seller sold a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, one Sig Sauer and one Smith & Wesson, to an undercover investigator even after he declared that he "probably couldn't pass" a background check. That statement should have immediately stopped the sale because even though 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.

Update from 2009 Undercover Gun Show Investigation:  Reforms at Four of Seven Shows

In 2009, the City of New York conducted a similar investigation and documented problems at seven gun shows in three states. Investigators found private dealers who sold to those who said they could not pass a background check, including two sellers who failed at multiple shows. In total, 19 of the 30 private sellers approached in 2009 failed the test.

Since the 2009 investigation, four of the seven gun shows documented on video have changed their practices. 

The operator of the Big Reno Show, and the owner of the venue, the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, have each signed agreements with the City of New York agreeing to end no-background check gun sales. The Big Reno Show is one of the nation's largest gun shows. It has 1,300 tables of exhibits, at the time of the investigation there were 120 private sellers at the show offering 1,700 guns for sale.

The operator of the Big Reno Show has also prevented any seller caught breaking the law in the undercover investigation from returning to the show. The agreement stipulates that all sales by private party sellers will be processed through licensed gun dealers who will perform background checks. 

Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife Shows promotes three of the seven shows visited by the City in 2009, they were held at the Hara Arena and Sharonville Convention Center in Ohio and at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The promoter has ended no-background check sales at all 34 shows that he promotes. 

In 2009, the City turned over all of its investigative materials on illegal sales to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF). One of the sellers caught on tape at the Big Reno gun show, Robert Daly, was the subject of an ATF search warrant in July 2010. When the warrant was executed at Daly's home in Mesa, Arizona, ATF agents seized 799 guns.  The Justice Department has charged him with illegally selling these guns at gun shows. 

About the Investigation

A team of investigators supervised by the firm Kroll, a global leader in business intelligence and investigations, visited the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Arizona on January 23. Every investigator who participated in the integrity tests was required to complete an intensive training program designed and administered by Kroll.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958


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