Gun show ‘loophole’ law contains loophole


An astute reader pointed out a loophole – probably better described as a gaping hole – in the Pinellas County ordinance that requires background checks for private sales at gun shows.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri broke some news when he announced that he planned to enforce the seldom-used 1998 ordinance at the Largo gun show last weekend.

Gualtieri assigned uniformed and “undercover” deputies to police the show. Thankfully, no arrests were made.

In one of my stories chronicling the sheriff’s plan, Richard Nascak,  executive director at Florida Carry, Inc. posted the following:


Richard Nascak

Notice the option is limited to transactions which occur “on property to which the public has the RIGHT of access”. Can Pinellas County claim that a gun show on PRIVATE PROPERTY, and to which patrons must pay admission, constitutes property to which the PUBLIC has the RIGHT of access? I don’t believe so.

A quick call to two gun-savvy attorneys confirmed Mr. Nascak’s statement.

Whereas the good sheriff might be able to enforce the ordinance if the gun show was held in a county park or pavilion, where no admission was charged, holding the show on private property and charging admission violates the “right of access” clause contained in the poorly-written ordinance.

Both attorneys said they would gladly take a case like this “all the way.”

Unlike Pinellas, Sarasota County and the handful of others that adopted similar ordinances in the late 1990s are not in any hurry to become part of a lengthy and costly legal proceeding.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose said, “we will not enforce any local ordinances or regulations pertaining to firearms until further legislative action clarifies our ability to do so.”

Sheriff Gualtieri should thank his gun show squad for not making any arrests, and forcing his department to defend this ordinance as the case made its way through the court system.




About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: UPDATE: No arrests made for Pinellas County background check law |

  2. virgil cooper on

    All I can say is great job too both you Lee and Mr. Nascak.l hope as many eyes see this artical as did the artical on the Sheriff’s great plans to enforce a law that dose not apply to a private gun show.Again great job guys.

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