Pinellas County Gun Show/Sheriff Gualtieri’s “Operation” falls flat

The Florida Constitution gives county governments the option to pass a gun show ordinance.  Article VIII, Section 5 (b) allows counties to require background checks for private gun sales on “property to which the public has the right of access.” The language targets the large gun shows often held at fairgrounds and convention centers. Holders of concealed carry permits were exempted from the background checks.

According to Lee Williams from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “For Guy Lemakos, owner of 2 Guys Gun Show Promotions, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s plan to enforce the seldom-used county ordinance requiring background checks for private sales was ‘much ado about very little’. No arrests were made either Saturday or Sunday at the 125-table Largo gun show, Lemakos said.”

Read more about it here: Sheriff Gualtieri’s background check plan |

The NRA and Florida gun owners were concerned that Sheriff Gualtieri was planning to infringe of the US Constitutional rights of gun owners.

The NRA in an email to Florida members stated:

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has vowed to “start” enforcing a little known county ordinance that requires background checks at local gun shows for all sales — including all private sales between individuals.

We wish we could tell you how it’s going to work but we can’t.  We don’t know.

How he plans to enforce the ordinance has not been made public, although Sheriff Gualtieri did admit that his monitoring and enforcement of the ordinance will also involve undercover operations.

As we told the press, the timing of Sheriff Gualtieri’s decision to begin enforcing the little known ordinance is curious.

Our big concern is entrapment.  If Sheriff Gualtieri’s “plan” doesn’t include notifying attendees at gun shows of the change, there are no assurances innocent people will know he has a new enforcement agenda.  When people don’t even know an ordinance exists, there is little chance they will know it’s going to be enforced.

Williams reports, “Maybe now Sheriff Gualtieri and the County Commission understand that their big attack on gun shows is viewed as political posturing,” said Florida NRA chief Marion Hammer. “Rather than being spun by a reporter, maybe Sheriff Gualtieri should have asked the Commission to suspend the ordinance until someone can prove it’s needed.  Political eye-wash is expensive for taxpayers.”

It appears the plan was much ado about nothing. However, Florida gun owners are keeping a watchful eye on Gualtieri.


UPDATE: No arrests made for Pinellas County background check law

Gun show background check law to be enforced, Pinellas sheriff says | Tampa Bay Times