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Lawmakers want to close background check loopholes for Florida gun sales

Background checks not currently required for online, private gun sales

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Some state lawmakers want to close loopholes that allow online and private gun sales in Florida to skip background checks.

New legislation filed by Democratic lawmakers aims to change that exemption and require sellers to go through licensed dealers, who would conduct background checks on the purchaser.

Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, said 80 percent of guns used in violent crimes were purchased without a background check, and lawmakers want to close that loophole.

The NRA balked, saying the legislation would put law-abiding gun owners at risk of being charged with a third-degree felony if they make a mistake.

“Because it requires a background check on the transfer,” former NRA President Marion Hammer said. "Transfer means sale, giving, lending, renting or simply handing another person a firearm.”

The bill includes some exemptions, including the sale of antique firearms and guns left to family members in wills, but the NRA says there are still issues.

Another concern for gun rights advocates is that nothing in the bill actually requires dealers to facilitate a private transfer or sale, allowing them to opt out entirely, and there's no cap on how much a dealer could charge.

“It could be $100. It could be $200,” Hammer said. "They sky is the limit.”

But Good said Floridians want to see change in the wake of a South Florida high school massacre in February.

“Right after the Parkland shooting, a poll was done that showed 96 percent of Floridians support a policy that would require background checks for every gun purchased,” Good said.

Even with the potential for public support, passing the bill through a Republican-controlled Florida Legislature will likely be an uphill battle.