Which way to the gun show?

Published by Karen Langley on .



Gov. Tom Corbett was taking questions on the radio Friday morning when a query about gun shows seemed to catch him off guard.

"Given Sandy Hook and the many mass shootings in the past years, why is Pennsylvania in the business of gun shows at the Farm Show complex, which is a tax-payer owned property," a caller asked. "Will you call for a ban on all gun shows on state-owned property?"

Federal law requires background checks on customers of licensed firearms dealers, but not on buyers from private sellers at gun shows. Proponents of gun control have long protested this discrepancy.

"You're the first one that's ever presented that to me," Corbett responded. "The state is open, I think, to all businesses using the Farm Show, but I've never given that one any thought. It's a good thing to raise and I will give thought to it."

Right now the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg is filled with exhibitors for the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, which kicks off today and runs through next Saturday, but the site hosts numerous other events throughout the year.

On the show, on WITF, the public radio station in Harrisburg, Corbett continued by saying that purchases at gun shows in Pennsylvania must go through a state background check.

"Those purchases are checked through the Pennsylvania state police system, background system, before those guns can go forward," he said. "That's the same as going to a dealer and getting a gun."

The governor's remark was reported Friday as evidence that he was considering new limits on gun shows. But by evening his office released a statement, in response to an earlier request for clarification, that says otherwise.

From spokeswoman Janet Kelley, the full statement:

"As the governor said this morning, persons who buy weapons at gun shows in Pennsylvania are subject to the same thorough background checks as they would at a retail store.

"There would be no reason to ban them on public property, such as the Farm Show building, as they are legitimate business owners conducting business. Our policy in these matters remains unchanged."

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