Stop me if you've heard this one before.
A man walks into a gun store. He wants to purchase a gun. He fills out the proper paperwork, passes a FBI background check and walks out, the proud owner of a new gun.
No joke. It is simply the thorough process that customers go through before purchasing guns from a federally licensed gun dealer, said Jim Stewart, owner of Jim's Gun Shop in Coal Run. No one who is forbidden from having a gun will ever purchase one from a federally licensed gun dealer, he said.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Marietta resident Ralph Shuttleworth fills out the necessary paperwork Tuesday in Cain’s Outdoor, Inc. to purchase a fire arm. Unlike guns purchased from federally licensed dealers, guns purchased from individuals do not require any paperwork or background checks.
The rules are much less strict for non-licensed sellers, although one was arrested in Marietta this month for illegally selling guns.
"I have to call the FBI," said Stewart. "They punch information into the computer from the paper you filled out. And they will then say, yes, you can have the gun or you might get a further delay which means the computer matched something with someone who has a problem with the law."
Those requirements-proper paperwork and a background check-follow Stewart and other federally licensed dealers no matter where they choose to sell their guns.
Laws governing federally licensed firearm dealers:
Must have potential buyers fill out Federal Form 4473.
Must call the FBI and have them perform a background check on the buyer.
Can be required to delay the purchase of the gun up to three days if the FBI finds the purchases has criminal restrictions.
Are required to keep the corresponding paperwork for 20 years following the sale of a gun.
Can not directly sell handguns to individuals from a different state.
Laws governing private citizens selling firearms:
Do not need to require identification from the buyer.
Do not need to perform a background check on the buyer.
Do not need to record the sale or keep any record of it.
Can sell handguns to individuals regardless of state of residence.
"A licensed dealer can set up at a gun show and you would have to undergo the same process," he said.
Additionally, a law that specifically targets handguns prohibit an Ohio federally licensed dealer from directly selling a handgun to a citizen from another state, regardless of whether or not they complete the required paperwork and background check. Citizens wishing to purchase a handgun out of state have to have the gun physically transferred to their home state, he said.
However, the same rules do not apply to licensed dealers and private citizens, explained Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
"As far as going out to a flea market or a gun show, you don't even have to provide identity," said Mincks.
Private citizens can sell their guns to any individual without seeking identification, paperwork or a background check. They can also sell a handgun to any individual, even those from a different state, said Scott Cain, owner of Cain's Outdoors, Inc. in Williamstown.
Despite the fact that there are few rules governing the sale of guns by private citizens, a man selling guns was arrested Saturday at Rinky Dinks flea market, said Capt. Jeff Waite of the Marietta Police Department.
The man, Clarence W. Weddle, 68, of Portland, was a convicted felon, said Waite. And it was not trying to sell guns that got him into trouble so much as simply possessing them in the first place.
Weddle was arrested for having weapons under a disability, a law that prohibits prior felony convicts from possessing a firearm.
The MPD arrested Weddle after receiving a tip that he was selling guns at the flea market. He was convicted of robbery in 1978 and had not been relieved of the gun disability, according to the police report.
"This wasn't the first time he'd been there selling," confirmed Waite.
The arrest brought up questions as to how much, if any, additional policing is necessary outside of traditional gun stores.
Both Mincks and Waite said their offices do not actively police gun shows.
"Most of the people who are involved in gun shows are very reputable people. So we really don't put a lot of emphasis on them. They are law abiding people," said Mincks.
On top of that, individuals can sell their guns virtually anywhere -over the Internet, in the Bulletin Board, at a flea market, inside their home, at a yard sale or at a gun show, said Mincks.
And finally, there are very few ways in which an individual seller could even violate the law. Basically, the person would have to be a felon, as was the case with Weddle, or would have to be selling stolen property, he said.
Adding more restrictions to personal gun sales could give law enforcement more leeway to make sure guns never end up in the possession of felons.
However, Cain said the idea of stricter policies for personal gun sales is unnecessary and impractical on several levels.
To begin with, convicted felons do not usually purchase guns, he said.
"A majority of convicted felons are not going to buy a gun. They are going to steal it," said Cain.
Additionally, adding extra limits and restrictions on the individual sale of guns directly infringes on rights, he said.
"It's your private property," Cain said of individuals who wish to sell their guns. "We wouldn't want the government preventing us from selling our own items."
Still said Cain, even he recommends that his customers leave a paper trail as far as their personal gun sales are concerned.
"If you're going to sell one, bring it in to a dealer," he said.
Though not necessary, individual sellers can have the store provide a background check. They can also have the dealer record the transaction so if the gun is used in a crime sometime in the future, the seller can prove he no longer owned it, said Cain.