EDITORIAL: Stop gun shows at Lake County fairgrounds

2013-02-20T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Stop gun shows at Lake County fairgrounds nwitimes.com
February 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Last week's law enforcement summit in Gary should serve as notice that Indiana, particularly Lake County, is contributing to Chicago's crime problem.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said gun shows in both states allow weapons to be supplied to criminals through straw purchases. These guns are sold by legitimate sellers to people without a criminal record who then put the guns in criminals' hands.

Under Indiana's gun laws, private sellers don't need to conduct background checks on purchasers and can hand over the weapons immediately. Illinois requires a 72-hour waiting period. Indiana doesn't even require a receipt or any other written record of the transaction.

It's easy to see why someone wanting to purchase guns for criminals would send someone to Indiana.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, President Barack Obama has been pushing for mandatory background checks for weapons sold at gun shows, among other reforms. 

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich is pushing for is a reform closer to home.

Gun shows at the Lake County Fairgrounds are "one of the prime topics we talked about" at the summit last Thursday, he said.

"We will be checking into the promoters," Buncich promised. "We are checking into other questions that arose about it."

The gun shows are authorized by the Lake County Board of Commissioners, which Buncich said has the sole power to restrict or close the shows.

Commissioner Gerry Scheub said the contract has already been signed for the six gun shows scheduled at the fairgrounds between March and December.

"We are looking at revising requirements for shows next year," Scheub said. Merely revising?

It is disturbing to think that gun shows on government property are fueling the crime problem in Chicago and elsewhere.

Dart said last week's summit was prompted by new data from the University of Chicago Crime Lab that showed Indiana, particularly Lake County, was the second-largest source of weapons recovered by Chicago police from 2008 to 2012.

One of the first responses in Lake County should be to stop allowing gun shows on county property. These shows make it too easy for criminals to obtain weapons, either directly or through straw purchases.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners should stop these gun shows at the county fairgrounds rather than allow them to continue.

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