I TEAM investigation: undercover video of gun sales inside a gun show

BEREA, Ohio - The FOX 8 I TEAM has found that no background checks are required in gun sales more often than you may realize.

An I TEAM producer saw first-hand earlier this month inside a gun show in Berea.

We found licensed dealers selling guns at tables next to private citizens selling their guns at tables.

Undercover video shows an I TEAM producer buying a small handgun from a private seller. They discuss the price. The seller asks to see the man’s Ohio driver’s license. He glances at it. And with that, the deal is done.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirms, at gun shows in Ohio, licensed dealers have customers fill out forms and go through background checks. But private citizens do not have to do any background checks. They’re expected to check to see if the buyer is an Ohio resident, and they only need to have a reasonable belief the buyer is not a felon or otherwise restricted from having a gun.

We also watched a private seller buy a gun from a customer at the show.

Some people call all of this the gun show loophole, and it concerns Christine Sitzenstock. She has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. She believes private citizens should face the same rules as dealers with licenses. She said, "They should be required to do a background check just like the guy sitting next to them that owns a gun store.” She wonders if the system now actually could help guns get into the wrong hands. She added, "And you`re walking out the door with a firearm. They could be crazy. they could be anything, you know. I don't know. I think it's kind of scary.”

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The I TEAM checked with two federal agencies. They couldn`t tell us how many guns used in crimes get traced back to gun shows. Some studies have suggested a small percentage. But investigators point out, when two private citizens make a gun deal with just a handshake and no records, it can be nearly impossible to trace a gun later.

Allen DeCola runs MGA Arms. He had a table set up at the Berea Show. He said, "Americans need a way to sell their guns. And that's what they're doing when they go to a gun show.”

DeCola believes the system would be better if everyone had to do a background check for every gun sale. But until someone figures out how to do that, DeCola says don’t blame the little guy selling a gun here and there. He added, "It almost isn't fair to me because it does cost me a lot of money to run these checks. If there was a system in place that they could do it. I bet you all the law-abiding Americans would do it.”

At that same show, Berea Police arrested a man trying to steal a rifle from the table DeCola had for gun sales there.

There is so much attention now trying to make sure bad guys don’t get guns. But it comes at a time with a new spotlight on an open secret. Very often, no background check is not a crime.

As for the gun the I TEAM producer purchased, that is being turned over to police.