9 Investigates Volusia County plans to close 'gun show loophole'

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —

Citing a long forgotten and never used county ordinance, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office is preparing to close the so-called 'gun show loophole.'

In 1999, voters in Florida passed a constitutional amendment allowing counties to implement background checks for private gun sales.

The amendment, which passed with more than 70 percent of the vote, was written in the aftermath of a shooting rampage by Hank Earl Carr that left a 4-year-old child and three law enforcement officers dead near Tampa. Carr was a convicted felon and had purchased his gun in a private sale, without a background check.

Following the passage of the amendment, 11 counties including Orange and Volusia implemented the ordinance requiring a background check for any handgun sold at any venue that is publicly accessible; including flea markets and gun shows.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a law limiting the authority of counties to regulate firearm sales.

Believing the county ordinance was in conflict with state law, in October of 2011, Orange County commissioners repealed the ordinance. Volusia didn't repeal the ordinance, it simply went unenforced. However, in early 2013, it was brought to the county's attention that the ordinance was still on the books. Now the county is alerting venues across the county that it will begin enforcing the background checks for private sales.

"We don't get to pick and choose what laws and ordinances we enforce, and unfortunately we weren't aware of the ordinance until recently" said Gary Davidson of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the private seller must sign the firearm over to a licensed seller who then conducts the background check. For a $5 fee, FDLE then checks the purchaser's name in a national database.

"This is a countywide ordinance, it's enforceable by the municipal police departments" said Davidson, "My guess is that they may not be aware that the ordinance is on the books, so we're going to send them a copy of the ordinance and make them aware of it as well."

The ordinance provides exemptions for people holding a valid concealed weapons permit issued by the State of Florida; and for sales to licensed firearms dealers, sales to law enforcement, sales to firearms importers and sales to manufacturers.

Violations of the ordinance will be classified as a second-degree misdemeanor.