Open Letter to Newspaper Publishers
Dear Sir or Madam:
The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention a loophole in our nation’s gun laws, and to request that you take a simple action to prevent your newspaper from being used as a marketplace for illegal gun transfers.
Under federal law (the 1994 Brady Law), federally licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct criminal background checks on all buyers and maintain records of their transactions. However, unlicensed individuals who sell firearms from a “personal collection” are not required to conduct background checks or keep records.
Thus, classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers provide a convenient venue for persons who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms to buy guns and evade the mandatory criminal background check required by the Brady Law on gun sales by licensed firearms dealers. As shown by the Mark Williams and Benjamin Smith incidents, this puts your readers and the general public at increased risk of gun violence.
Therefore, we respectively request that you consider adopting a firearms advertising policy that restricts firearms advertisements to licensed firearms dealers only and to not accept classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers.
The issue is not guns, but the way that guns are sold. Unlike licensed firearms dealers, unlicensed individuals have no way of conducting background checks on gun buyers. It is difficult to defend a newspaper’s role in the private sale of firearms by unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check.
Since the National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole was launched in 2001, at least 76 newspapers with a daily circulation of 8.1 million have changed their firearms advertising policy. We ask that your newspaper join the growing list of newspapers across the country that have taken steps to ensure that the classifieds are not used as a marketplace for illegal gun transfers.
National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole