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:
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.