I TEAM investigation: Private gun sales happening right outside of gun shows

BEREA, Ohio – Cell phone video obtained by the Fox 8 I-Team shows quite a bit of activity in the parking lot outside a recent gun show at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

The video shows several people at the trunks of cars, some displaying guns and another counting money.

Some people worry the video shows signs of possible sales taking place in the parking lots -something private citizens are allowed to do. It’s legal, as long as both parties are adults and from the same state.

“As far as private individuals making sales, they are not licensed, so there are no regulations where they conduct their transfers,” said Suzanne Dabkowski, ATF spokeswoman.

Dabkowski says licensed dealers have to make all sales either at their stores, or at a booth inside the gun show. Individuals aren’t licensed and don’t have to follow those same laws, they can sell without doing a background check, and without recording any information.

“That doesn’t make sense,” said Ohio State Senator Joe Schiavoni, who is one of many lawmakers, concerned about gun deals outside the shows. “This is not making us safer, it’s not making our children feel any safer in our schools, we got to shore this up.”

And operators of the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds don’t want any sales taking place in their parking lots.

“People are invited to come on the property to pay their admission and come in to an event,” said Gregory Sponseller, an attorney for the Cuyahoga County Agricultural Association. “They are not invited to go into the parking lot on the fair grounds and conduct their own private sales.”

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About five years ago, signs were posted at the fairgrounds that state all private sales are banned, not just guns.

Sponseller says it’s up to the event organizer to make sure all rules are followed.

“The entity holding the event, whether it’s the gun show, the flea market, the Rib Fest, they would hire their own security to walk the fair grounds and help enforce the signage that’s there,” Sponseller said.

We tried to reach Richard Walters , whose company organizes the indoor gun show at the fairgrounds, to find out if the security he hires also checks the parking lots. Walters did not return our phone call.

Walters also organizes several other gun shows, including one being held in Warren on March 3 and 4. That show is being held at a building off of Parkman road. Earlier this week, Fox 8 went to the site and there were no signs in the parking lot prohibiting private sales.

Senator Schiavoni, D-Boardman, says he is concerned and is looking at introducing legislation tightening existing gun laws.

“It defies common sense,” Schiavoni said. “We are talking about firearms here not garage sales selling old t-shirts and DVDS. We need to make sure only licensed dealers are selling firearms. “