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Schneiderman touts gun-show checks at LI event

State attorney general Eric Schneiderman checks out guns

State attorney general Eric Schneiderman checks out guns at a gun show in Hauppauge, as he took a tour with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, and show operator Don Fiore, right, on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

Calling gun-show operators "our allies in the fight for gun safety," New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman visited a Long Island gun show Sunday to trumpet a safeguard intended to ensure background checks.

The procedures, developed by Schneiderman's office and gun-show operators last year, call for tagging guns brought into shows for sale by private owners. The tags are inspected as buyers leave to determine whether the gun was sold and that a state-mandated background check was completed.

Schneiderman's office reached agreements with 36 gun-show operators, which is nearly all of the known gun-show operators statewide.

The measures are not enforced by criminal penalties, but the attorney general's office said operators have complied in a collaborative effort.

"New York is showing national leadership on this issue. Washington couldn't get anything done about background checks," Schneiderman said after touring the Long Island gun show in Hauppauge with its promoters.

In 2000, then-Gov. George E. Pataki signed a law requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows, making New York the first state to do so.

But Schneiderman said the checks were not regularly enforced.

Nearly two years ago, his office sat down with promoters of the Hauppauge show and other operators to help craft the measures.

Schneiderman praised the promoters of the Hauppauge show, saying they are "setting a great example for the state."

In an interview, Donald Fiore, one of the promoters and a retired Suffolk County detective, said he and his partners had been consistently doing the background checks and their own tagging system for years.

"We find it very efficient for our show. I think it does the job," he said.The attorney general said the measures' effectiveness is difficult to quantify, but Schneiderman's office said operators have said they work well.

Among the measures, operators must also put up "conspicuous signs" detailing the legal requirement for background checks to be performed for all sales -- including ones that take place on the grounds of the show.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who joined Schneiderman, said the measures draw a balance "between protecting the public . . . and also protecting and respecting the constitutional rights of our citizens."Last week, under pressure from gun-control advocates, Facebook agreed to delete posts from users seeking to buy or sell weapons illegally or without a background check.

That new policy was worked out in agreement with Schneiderman's office.

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