Trade a gun for a wedding dress? The surprising 'second-hand' gu -

Trade a gun for a wedding dress? The surprising 'second-hand' gun market in St. Louis

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -

In recent years, gun sales in America have skyrocketed.

Last year, the FBI ran more than 23 million background checks, a record-breaking year for the firearms industry.

Many of those guns are purchased at sporting goods stores and gun shops. But officials have no idea how many others are sold, or traded between people privately.

At least one local elected official is asking if that's smart, or even legal.

This question all came about when someone living in the city noticed that guns were being sold at a neighborhood yard sale.

In many situations, it's perfectly legal to sell guns that way or even to trade them on Craigslist.

But there can be dangers associated with the second-hand gun market.

News 4 was alerted to one particular yard sale by St. Louis city Alderman Joe Vaccaro, who was alarmed by the Craigslist post advertising it.

“Microwaves, TVs, firearms, what a deal, it's kind of crazy isn't it,” said Vaccaro.

There were several firearms openly for sale.

“No background, no gun safety, I can just walk in and say, hey, I'll take that,” Vaccaro.

Vaccaro says one of his constituents called him about it, so he checked with police. In most cases, private sales like these are perfectly legal.

“I just think it's wild that you can do these things, it just doesn't even make common sense,” Vaccaro.

What about wanting to trade your wedding dress for guns?

A simple Craigslist search revealed numerous people in the local area, wanting to meet up to swap guns for items ranging from rims to jet skis, a corvette, a kayak, a bicycle and even dozens of decades old Playboy magazines.

Almost every seller saying they'd take cash or would consider a fair trade for firearms.

When News 4 reached out the seller of the wedding dress, she said she wanted "pistols and assault rifles" in exchange for the white dress from her big day.

That was a new one. I have never seen a wedding dress trade for a firearm, but in fact, it would be perfectly legal.

“That was a new one. I have never seen a wedding dress trade for a firearm, but in fact, it would be perfectly legal,” John Hamm with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said.

He says so long neither person is a felon or under the influence,there's nothing wrong with trading firearms online.

One issue though is you've got to be sure the buyer's residency.

"What the law says is that you have to be residents of the same state. It is up to the seller to verify that," Ham said.

The sale cannot cross state lines, through the mail or in-person. 

While private sales are legal, Ham says there are some red flags.

If someone wants a gun on the down-low, there might be a reason why.

“There is a lot of people in Kansas City, St. Louis, there are a lot of people that trade firearms for dope,” Ham said.

Or he says, they might be planning something criminal.  So Ham says to protect yourself, get the proper paperwork.

“If it's recovered at a crime scene, we can go back and figure out how it got there,” Ham said.

Gun advocates are also behind the idea of doing private sales properly.

“Should you be able to sell your own property? Yes. Should there be some responsibility? Yes,” said Karl Shoenbeck.

Shoenbeck owns On-Target in Valley Park.

Every sale they make gets documented and every buyer run through what's called an NICS check.

If you want to do a private sale, he says most gun dealers will do the check for a reasonable cost.

“Hey, get a NICs check. It doesn't take more than $35, show up, get it done,” Shoenbeck said.

One person who responded to inquiries about trading on Craigslist said he would have insisted on a background check, and back at the yard sale, a seller also wanted to run potential buyers.

As News 4 pointed out, many gun shops are happy to run background check for anyone buying or selling a gun privately.

Ham wanted to be very clear, the government does not keep a database on how many guns each person owns. The paperwork is on the gun and only referenced if the gun is used to commit a crime.

It comes down to whether or not a seller sells guns as a regular course of business. If so, they have to have a federal license as an arms dealer and they must require background checks.

If it's an occasional private sale, a license is not required and neither is a background check.

The person holding that yard sale didn't respond to requests for comment. The woman selling her wedding dress said she didn't want to speak.

Craigslist’s policies specifically state that you cannot sell guns directly through Craigslist, but even in their policie,s there's nothing specifically wrong with arranging a trade. 

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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