Gun Shows in California

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

In 1999, California enacted the nation’s broadest legislation to increase oversight at gun shows (AB 295). In California, all firearms transfers at gun shows must be processed through a licensed firearms dealer.1 Licensed dealers ordinarily are permitted to sell firearms only from their licensed premises; however, California law provides an exception for sales at California gun shows as long as they are not conducted from motorized or towed vehicles.2 A dealer operating at a gun show must still comply with all applicable laws, including California’s waiting period law, other California laws governing the transfer of firearms by dealers, and all local ordinances, regulations, and fees.3

California requires a person who promotes, produces, sponsors, operates, or otherwise organizes a gun show (“producer”) to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”), which requires a background check.4 California also requires the producer to, among other things:

• Certify that he or she is familiar with the California laws governing gun shows;5

• Ensure that liability insurance is in effect for the duration of a gun show or event in a minimum amount of $1,000,000;6

• Provide an annual list of the gun shows or events the applicant plans to produce, including the date, time, and location of the gun shows or events;7

• Prior to the commencement of a gun show or event, and within 48 hours of a written request by a law enforcement agency, make available to local law enforcement a complete and accurate list of all persons, entities, and organizations leasing or renting a table, display space, or area at the gun show or event for the purpose of selling, leasing, or transferring firearms;8

• Working with the facility manager, prepare an annual event and security plan and schedule to be submitted to DOJ and the local law enforcement agency. The event and security plan must include, among other things:

o The type of shows or events including, but not limited to, antique or general firearms;

o The estimated number of vendors offering firearms for sale or display, and the estimated number of attendees;

o The number of entrances and exits at the gun show or event site; and

o The number of sworn peace officers and non-sworn security personnel employed by the producer or the facilities manager who will be present at the show or event;9

• Within seven calendar days of the gun show or event, submit a list of all prospective vendors and designated firearms transfer agents who are licensed firearms dealers to DOJ for the purpose of determining whether these prospective vendors and transfer agents are eligible to process firearms transactions at the show or event;10

• Have written contracts with all gun show vendors selling firearms at the show or event;11

• Post certain signs in a readily visible location at each public entrance to the show;12 and post, in a readily visible location at each entrance to the parking lot at the show, a sign that states, “The transfer of firearms on the parking lot of this facility is a crime”;

• Inform prospective gun show vendors of the requirements of California law that govern gun shows;13 and

• Pay an annual fee of $85.14

Prior to a gun show, each vendor must provide to the gun show producer the names, driver’s license or state-issued identification card numbers, and dates of birth of the vendor, the vendor’s employees, and any other persons providing services to the public at the vendor’s display space. The producer must make the information available to law enforcement upon request.15

California law also provides that gun show vendors may not display, possess, or offer for sale any black powder or prohibited firearms, or engage in any activities that incite or encourage hate crimes.16 Gun show vendors must verify that all firearms in their possession at the show will be unloaded, and that the firearms will be secured in a manner that prevents them from being operated, except for brief periods when the mechanical condition of a firearm is being demonstrated to a prospective buyer.17 Ammunition may be displayed only in closed original factory boxes or other closed containers, except when it is being shown to a prospective buyer.18

No person at a gun show, other than security personnel or sworn peace officers, may possess at the same time both a firearm and ammunition that is designed to be used with the firearm. However, vendors having those items at the show for sale or exhibition are exempt from this prohibition.19 All persons possessing firearms at the gun show must have government-issued photo identification in his or her immediate possession and display it upon request to any security officer or any peace officer.20

Handgun ammunition vendors must record information about purchasers of ammunition at gun shows, as elsewhere.  For more information, see the Ammunition Regulation in California section.

Any member of the public who is under the age of 18 may not attend a gun show unless accompanied by his or her parent, grandparent, or legal guardian.21

All firearms carried into a gun show by members of the public must be checked, cleared of any ammunition, secured in a manner that prevents them from being operated, and an identification tag must be attached to the firearm, prior to the person being allowed admittance to the show. The identification tag must state that all firearms transfers between private parties at the show must be conducted through a licensed dealer in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. Before the tag is attached to the firearm, the owner must print and sign his or her name and enter the number from his or her government-issued photo identification on the tag.22

See the Private Sales in California section for additional state laws that apply at gun shows.

Notes
  1. Cal. Penal Code § 27305(d).
  2. Cal. Penal Code § 26805.
  3. Id.
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 27200.
  5. Cal. Penal Code § 27200(b)(1).
  6. Cal. Penal Code § 27200(b)(2).
  7. Cal. Penal Code § 27200(b)(3).
  8. A producer must thereafter, upon written request, for every day the gun show or event operates, within 24 hours or another time specified by the requesting law enforcement agency, make available to the requesting law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the facility, a current list of the persons, entities, and organizations that have leased or rented, or are known to the producer to intend to lease or rent, any table, display space, or area at the gun show or event for the purpose of selling, leasing, or transferring firearms. Cal. Penal Code § 27205.
  9. The event and security plan must be approved by the facility’s manager prior to the event or show after consultation with the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the facility. Cal. Penal Code § 27210.
  10. DOJ must examine its records and if it determines that a dealer’s license is not valid, it must notify the show or event producer of that fact prior to the commencement of the show or event. Cal. Penal Code § 27220.
  11. Cal. Penal Code § 27235.
  12. The signs must contain, but need not be limited to, the following notices:
    • This gun show follows all federal, state, and local firearms and weapons laws without exception;
    • All firearms carried onto the premises by members of the public will be checked, cleared of any ammunition, secured in a manner that prevents them from being operated, and an identification tag or sticker will be attached to the firearm prior to the person being allowed admittance to the show;
    • No member of the public under the age of 18 years must be admitted to the show unless accompanied by a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian;
    • All firearms transfers between private parties at the show must be conducted through a licensed dealer in accordance with applicable state and federal laws; and
    • Persons possessing firearms on this facility must have in their immediate possession government-issued photo identification, and display it upon request to any security officer or any peace officer. Cal. Penal Code § 27240.
  13. Cal. Penal Code § 27215.
  14. Cal. Penal Code § 27200(e).
  15. Cal. Penal Code § 27320.
  16. Cal. Penal Code § 27305.
  17. Id.
  18. Cal. Penal Code § 27315.
  19. Cal. Penal Code § 27330.
  20. Cal. Penal Code § 27345.
  21. Cal. Penal Code § 27335.
  22. Cal. Penal Code § 27340.

Gun Shows in New York

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

New York law defines “gun show” as “an event sponsored, whether for profit or not, by an individual, national, state or local organization, association or other entity devoted to the collection, competitive use, sporting use, or any other legal use of firearms, rifles or shotguns.”1 The definition also includes an event at which:

• Twenty percent or more of all exhibitors are firearms exhibitors;
• Ten or more firearms exhibitors are participating;
• Twenty-five or more handguns are offered for sale or transfer; or
• Fifty or more firearms are offered for sale or transfer.

The term “gun show” includes any building, structure or facility where firearms are offered for sale or transfer and any grounds used in connection with the event.2

New York requires all firearms sales at gun shows to be processed by a licensed dealer.3 Prospective purchasers are subject to the same background check process that applies to retail firearm transfers and all dealers processing transactions must record the transfer, retain the transfer records for 10 years, and make the records available to law enforcement (see Retention of Background Check / Sales Records in New York).4 A person is criminally liable for a misdemeanor if he or she offers or agrees to transfer a firearm to another person at a gun show and then deliver the firearm at a location other than the gun show in order to evade compliance with the background check requirement.5

A licensed dealer is permitted to conduct business temporarily at a gun show or event sponsored by any organization devoted to the collection, competitive use or other sporting use of firearms.6 Gun show operators are required to provide access to a licensed firearm dealer at gun shows for the purpose of completing background checks.7

Gun show operators must conspicuously post and maintain signs stating: “A National Instant Criminal Background Check must be completed prior to all firearm sales or transfers, including sales or transfers of rifles or shotguns.”8 Signs must be posted at all entrances to the gun show, at all places where admission tickets to the gun show are sold, and at not less than four additional locations within the grounds of the gun show.9 A gun show operator must notify exhibitors, in writing, that a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) check is required prior to all firearm transfers.10

In Scope, Inc. v. Pataki, 386 F. Supp. 2d 184 (W.D.N.Y. 2005), a group of gun association plaintiffs challenged New York’s gun show statutes on various constitutional grounds, including that they allegedly violate the: 1) due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because the definition of “gun show” is vague; and 2) First Amendment because the definition of “gun show” is so broad that it declares any assembly of gun owners for any purpose a “gun show,” infringing on plaintiffs’ rights of lawful assembly and free speech and right to petition the government.

On the due process challenge, the court held that the definition of gun show in New York law was not vague.11 The court found that definition of “gun show” is not vague, but as to the First Amendment challenge, the court found the definition to be overbroad in its prohibitions, stating that the law “defines any gathering of a gun club to be a ‘gun show.’”12 Thus, the court found the definition to be unconstitutional.

New York now requires private sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to have a background check conducted on a prospective purchaser before transferring any firearm, whether at gun shows or elsewhere.  See the Private Sales in New York section for further information, including additional laws that may apply at gun shows.

Notes
  1. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 895
  2. Id.
  3. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 896 and 897.
  4. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 896 and 897.
  5. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 897.
  6. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(8).
  7. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(c).
  8. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(a).
  9. Id.
  10. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(b).
  11. Scope, Inc., 386 F. Supp. 2d at 191.
  12. Scope, Inc., 386 F. Supp. 2d at 194-5.

Gun Shows in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania does not specifically regulate gun shows. However, it does regulate where and how private persons may transfer handguns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns to unlicensed transferees.1 Pennsylvania law specifies that the place of business for a retail dealer includes a lawful gun show or meet.2 Since a transfer of a handgun must be carried out at the place of business of a licensed dealer,3 a private person may transfer a handgun to an unlicensed transferee at a gun show. However, the private seller must have a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff’s office perform a background check on the prospective purchaser.4 The licensee must also follow all other dealer regulations specified in the Pennsylvania Dealer Regulations section before transferring the handgun.5

See also the Pennsylvania Private Sales section for state laws that apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c).
  2. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6113(a).
  3. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c).
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c); 37 Pa. Code § 33.111(g).
  5. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c); 37 Pa. Code § 33.111(g).

Gun Shows in New Jersey

While New Jersey does not explicitly prohibit gun shows, state law significantly restricts the sale of firearms at gun shows. No retail dealer is permitted to conduct a retail business in a mobile or temporary facility.1 Mobile means “a facility easily moved from one location to another.” Temporary means “not having indicia of permanency,” and a “temporary facility” includes, but is not limited to, garage sales, flea markets, gun shows and exhibits.2

New Jersey generally prohibits any person from manufacturing, transporting, shipping, selling or disposing of any handgun bullet comprised of specific materials, although the state explicitly allows licensed collectors of ammunition to transport certain ammunition from the collector’s dwelling, premises or other land owned or possessed by him or her to any gun show for the purposes of display, sale, trade, or transfer between collectors.3 See the section entitled Ammunition Regulation in New Jersey for more details.

See the section entitled Private Sales in New Jersey for state laws that apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-3.4(e).
  2. Id.
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-9f.

Gun Shows in Massachusetts

See our Gun Shows policy for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

A licensed firearms dealer in Massachusetts is permitted to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition at a gun show open to the general public, as long as the dealer complies with the licensed dealer conditions in Massachusetts law and ensures that such sales or transfers are in conformity with federal and state law, including the prohibitions on sales to purchasers who lack the required firearm identification cards, licenses to carry firearms, and/or permits to purchase, rent or lease firearms.1

Unlicensed sellers may transfer “not more than four” firearms in any one calendar year, so long as both the buyer and the seller have the proper cards, permits or licenses to possess or purchase the types of firearms being transferred, and the seller reports the sale to the state, as required by law.2

See the Private Sales section for additional state laws that apply at gun shows.

Notes
  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (citing Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B, 131 and 131A).
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 128A.

Gun Shows in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has no law regulating gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Gun Shows in Illinois

All sellers are required to conduct background checks on prospective firearm purchasers at gun shows in Illinois.1 Any person who is not a licensed dealer who desires to transfer or sell a firearm at a gun show must first request that the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) conduct a background check on the prospective recipient.2 The DSP must assign a unique identification number to the transfer, if approved, which is to be provided to the transferor.3 Approvals are valid for 30 days.4 The unique identification number must be recorded by the transferor on the record of the transfer, which (like all transfer records) must be kept for a minimum of 10 years.5

“Gun show” is defined as “an event or function: (1) at which the sale and transfer of firearms is the regular and normal course of business and where 50 or more firearms are displayed, offered, or exhibited for sale, transfer, or exchange; or (2) at which not less than 10 gun show vendors display, offer, or exhibit for sale, sell, transfer, or exchange firearms.6 A gun show includes the entire premises provided for the event, including parking areas.7

Non-residents of Illinois cannot purchase handguns at gun shows, but may buy rifles or shotguns and ammunition for such long guns if they are residents of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky, or are residents of another state with a valid non-resident hunting license.8 The non-residents of Illinois must not be otherwise prohibited by the laws of Illinois, their state of domicile, or federal law from purchasing or possessing such guns.9 Non-residents who purchase firearms at gun shows are not subject to the statutory waiting periods.10

See the Private Sales in Illinois section for additional state laws that apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-5).
  2. Id.
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(c).
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(d).
  5. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b).
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/1.1.
  7. Id.
  8. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(b).
  9. Id.
  10. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(g).

Gun Shows in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia does not specifically regulate gun shows. Generally, firearms may not be transferred in the District until the purchaser has been issued a firearm registration certificate, which requires a background check by the Chief of Police.1

See the District of Columbia Background Checks, Prohibited Purchasers Generally and Registration sections for further information.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2502.01, 7-2502.03, 7-2502.06(a).