Monday, November 21, 2005

Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole Report: The Newspaper Classifieds -- Marketplace for Illegal Gun Transfers

To: National Desk
Contact: John Johnson of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, 319-743-7823 or john-johnson@qwest.net
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Nov. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The newspaper industry is operating a marketplace for illegal gun transfers according to a report released today by the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole. A copy of the report "The Newspaper Classifieds - Marketplace for Illegal Gun Transfers" is posted online at http://www.gunloophole.com.
Unlike licensed firearms dealers, private individuals who sell guns through classified ads in newspapers are not required to conduct criminal background checks on their buyers or keep records of their transactions. Thus, the classifieds provide opportunities for felons, domestic abusers, minors and other persons who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms to evade a background check and unlawfully buy guns, according to the report. The classifieds also provide a venue for gun traffickers to illegally "engage in the business" of dealing in firearms without a license to do so.
Several anecdotes in which a prohibited purchaser bought a gun through a classified ad in a newspaper and then committed a crime with the gun, including murder, are provided in the report.
Between April - November 2005 the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole surveyed most daily newspapers published in the U.S. to determine each newspaper's firearms advertising policy. Of 1,449 newspapers surveyed, 1,030 newspapers (71 percent) accept classified ads for all guns -- rifles, shotguns, and handguns -- from unlicensed sellers; 145 newspapers (10 percent) accept classified ads for rifles and shotguns, but not handguns; and 274 newspapers (19 percent) do not take classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers.
Said John Johnson, executive director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence and coordinator for the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole, "There is a demand for guns by persons who cannot buy them from licensed firearms dealers because they are either too young or have a criminal record and cannot pass the mandatory criminal background check required on all dealer sales. Thus, it is difficult to defend a newspaper's role in the private sale of firearms by unlicensed sellers without a background check. The potential risks to the general public (and the newspaper) from the unregulated sale of firearms through the classifieds far outweigh the benefits (revenues) generated by these ads."
The Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole asks newspapers across the country to restrict firearms advertisements to licensed firearms dealers only, and to not take classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers.
Since the campaign was launched, at least 69 newspapers with a combined circulation of 7.9 million have changed their firearms advertising policy after being contacted by the campaign. At least 53 newspapers have changed their policy in 2005. A list of newspapers that have changed their policy is provided in the report and includes some of the nation's largest newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, and The Indianapolis Star.
"We commend the publishers of these newspapers for taking reasonable steps to prevent their newspaper from being used as a marketplace for illegal gun purchases," said Johnson. "Although the classifieds represent only one segment of the unregulated secondary gun market, by changing its policy, a newspaper becomes part of the solution rather than part of the problem."
The Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole is a project of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence ( http://www.ipgv.org ).
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/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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