Buying a gun: Retail shop vs. gun shows

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you've met the legal requirements -- you're old enough (18 for long gun, 21 for handgun) and pass a background check -- then buying a gun in north Florida isn't hard.

There are dozens of gun stores in North Florida. Plus many weekends there are shows going on around the area that sell guns as well as hard-to-find weapons and collectibles. Courses are also offered in order to apply for a concealed firearm permit.

While critics say gun shows can attract people who should not be buying guns, many law enforcement agencies say that's not really a problem.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler says there are a lot of misconceptions about gun shows.

"Gun dealers who go and participate in a show are still bound by all the rules and regulations that a gun store would have to have," Beseler said.

Beseler added that the dealers at gun shows are licensed retailers who must comply with the same background checks and waiting periods that any other gun dealer requires.

Beseler says private sales between individuals do take place at gun shows, but he says they take place elsewhere, as well.

"I really don't think a criminal is going to go to a gun show where police officers are numerously posted and try to secure a firearms when it twice as easy to break into somebody's home and steal one."

Even gun store owners say gun shows are not a problem.

Anthony Testa, of Yulee Pawn and Collectable, says guns shows have their place.

"Even though I am a dealer, I believe it is your right to sell personnel firearms," Testa said. "I mean, if you had to go to a dealer for everything that would be kind of hectic."

Testa says sometimes it costs more money to buy at stores, so he understands people go there looking to save money.

Jon Gutmacher, an attorney and author who specializes in gun rights in Florida, says guns shows have come under a lot of criticism by anti-gun advocates. He says the concern is people who sell guns privately at gun shows might be stretching the law.

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