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Gun control a hot topic at gun show in Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Gun Show in Tampa saw thousands of visitors this weekend. Organizers say they believe so many people came out because of all the talk of gun control after the Parkland shooting.

While state leaders, federal lawmakers and even the president are all weighing in on what the “best” idea is to stop mass shootings, 8 On Your Side asked gun owners at the gun show.

“We are focusing on the wrong area,” said Eric Gibbs.

Gibbs has been a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer for the last decade. He wants to see stricter gun laws.

“Yes, I do. We need more FFL dealers,” he said. “We’ve got to stop this private selling, these guns are getting into the wrong hands this way.”

Gibbs is referring to something that is often called the “gun show loophole,” but it can really happen almost anywhere.

In most Florida counties, only an FFL dealer is required to do a background check. If there is a private sale – there is no federal or statewide requirement to run a background check.

However, certain counties – like Hillsborough and Pinellas – can require it.

The problem is, it is rarely enforced. The reason why? Law enforcement would have to know the exact moment the private sale is happening. It can happen anywhere – a parking lot, someone’s home or even a gun show.

The Florida Gun Show travels, and 8 On Your Side went to the show in Tampa to see how many vendors could skip the background check legally in other counties.

“At our gun show, in particular, about 95 percent of our vendors – we have over 140 vendors – are federally licensed dealers,” said the show manager, George Fernandez.

That means 5 percent of the vendors would be legally able to skip the background check in certain counties.

So we asked what measures are put in place at the show to make sure someone who shouldn’t have a gun doesn’t walk out with one.

“Well the security measures in place here are Florida State law,” said Fernandez.

Gibbs says making this a statewide regulation could save lives.

“I still worry about what guns get where,” he said.

The next Florida Gun Show will be in Lakeland.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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