CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Is it time to tighten up laws around gun shows? Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan says she’s working on a legislative proposal after police stopped a Cambridge man accused of stocking up on ammunition at a Wilmington gun show without a Massachusetts gun license.

“Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi. He did mention Barrack Obama,” were some of the people the man’s roommate said she heard Brian Schwarztrauber talking about. “I heard a three-hour conversation, detailing and finalizing just how he was going to kill these people.”

Brian Schwarztrauber. (Photo credit: Wilmington Police Department)

The case has Ryan pushing for stricter gun laws. “At these gun shows, vendors are not required to perform a background check that is required if someone buys a gun elsewhere in Massachusetts.”

Under federal law, some of those vendors are considered private sellers, and unlike the licensed dealers at gun shops, private sellers are not required to do background checks.

Read: Gun License & FID Card Town-by-Town Breakdown

Gun law advocates say it’s the same so-called loophole that applies to online sites like Armslist, where private gun-owners can sell their wares without doing background checks. A spokesperson for Ryan says she’ll be “looking across the regulations and statutes to figure out where the gaps are. This includes looking at online sales to determine how best to address those gaps.”

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. (WBZ-TV)

WBZ’s I-Team sat down with Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon as he checked up on sellers. He never got as far as a sale without a background check, but the potential concerned him. “It’s so much better if they actually process the sale through a dealer, so the background checks are done; the registration, the paperwork’s done,” said Solomon.

Boston Police officer Kurt Stokinger is suing Armslist for allegedly allowing the sale of a gun that ended up in the hands of a felon accused of using it to shoot the officer in the leg.

Boston Police officer Kurt Stokinger is suing Armslist for allegedly allowing the sale of a gun that ended up in the hands of a felon accused of using it to shoot the officer in the leg. (WBZ-TV)

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross says gun sales should be monitored closely. “There should be some accountability in the reporting process of who’s making the purchases and where the firearms are going. It’s not like we’re trying to be Big Brother or George Orwell or anything, but we want accountability,” he said.

Cambridge Police say Brian Schwarztrauber never even applied for a firearms license with their department. The I-Team obtained records showing how many people did apply for gun licenses in Massachusetts over the last year, and how many were granted. If you want to check your town, we’ve got the breakdown right here.

Christina Hager

Comments (2)
  1. Christopher Hall says:

    So no law broken but, they illegally investigated a citizen? Sounds like a tyrannical government.

  2. Craig Reise says:

    It has been 72 hours since you published your story “DA Examining Gun Laws After Man Allegedly Stocked Up On Ammo At Gun Show Without License”, which contained a number of factual errors and/or misrepresentations by Middlesex DA Marian Ryan. I’d appreciate it if you’d correct the record on your website and broadcast, as these misrepresentations have been pointed out both in the comment section of your website and in response to Ms Hager’s tweets since the story ran.

    Specifically:
    DA Ryan stated ““At these gun shows, vendors are not required to perform a background check that is required if someone buys a gun elsewhere in Massachusetts.” This is factually incorrect. Any licensed firearm dealer is required to perform a background check for every firearm sale, regardless of where the sale is performed. The Commonwealth sets up a table at gun shows so that those background checks can be done immediately onsite. (If the “vendor” is a private individual selling a personal firearm they are still required to verify that the buyer has a valid MA firearms license (for which they have undergone a background check) and the buyer is required to record the transfer of the firearm in the state firearm portal).
    The DA is factually wrong on all counts in her statement, you should identify that for your viewers. Because of our onerous licensing practices, there is no “gun show loophole” in MA.

    “Under federal law, some of those vendors are considered private sellers, and unlike the licensed dealers at gun shops, private sellers are not required to do background checks.” This statement is not quoted to DA Ryan but is also factually incorrect (within Massachusetts) for the reasons above.

    “Gun law advocates say it’s the same so-called loophole that applies to online sites like Armslist, where private gun-owners can sell their wares without doing background checks.”
    You should have checked this statement with someone like an attorney who specializes in MA firearm law, with the Gun Owners Action League of MA (www.goal.org), or with Commonwealth 2nd Amendment (www.comm2a.org). All the nuances of this statement are beyond my level of expertise but I’ll point out that this is certainly not true for handguns. I have already explained how in-state sales must be verified, but any interstate transfer of a handgun must also go through someone with a Federal Firearms License (FFL), who is required to do a background check before transferring the firearm.

    I’d appreciate it if the I-Team could clarify and correct these factually-incorrect statements in their report. Thanks.

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