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Attorney general wins cooperation from gun show operators

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Thursday acknowledged that laws holding gun show operators responsible for what goes on at the shows are flimsy.

But Schneiderman has convinced two major show operators to enter into a permanent agreement that seeks to prevent guns from being obtained by people who cannot pass background checks, which he hopes will lead to stronger laws.

“You can’t have a system where operators have no liability,” Schneiderman told reporters in Buffalo.

Many other gun show operators have not agreed to the terms.

The threat of future undercover operations was one tool the state used to win cooperation from two operators, Niagara Frontier Collectors, which hosts shows in Western New York, and New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates, of Saratoga County.

The new rules have been posted on both companies’ websites, which is a provision of the agreement.

The agreement also requires that guns brought into gun shows by private vendors be tagged so that the show operator can determine if the guns were sold and if a background check was performed.

Other provisions include limiting the number of entrances and exits at the show in an effort to discourage illegal gun sales and to alert law enforcement if vendors are spotted potentially selling guns illegally.

Schneiderman hopes to use the agreement as a blueprint for legislation to hold gun show operators responsible for illegal sales at the shows.

“The laws are really not strong enough,” he said.

The attorney general’s staff had conducted a sting last year, and investigators were able to purchase a gun at the shows every time when they explained to the dealer why they couldn’t pass a background check. The resulting prosecutions of gun dealers were successful, Schneiderman said.

Nine pled guilty to misdemeanor violations of the gun show law and one was found guilty last month following a jury trial in Hamburg Town Court, he said.

“Our undercover investigation last year proved that the current gun show law is a failure,” he said.