Gun shows and universal background check laws across state lines

Ariana N. Gobaud, Christopher N. Morrison, Christina A. Mehranbod, Mark H. Hoofnagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


States with more gun laws have fewer gun assaults, and associations are strongest for background check laws. However, sales between private buyers and sellers (i.e., gun shows) are exempt from some background check requirements according to federal and most state laws. The aim of this study was to determine whether gun shows are more likely to take place in counties that are near states with universal background check laws. This cross-sectional study used gun show data from a 2018 public online listing aggregated within 3107 counties in the contiguous 48 states. The main independent variable was the presence of a universal background check law in neighboring states. We controlled for potential drivers of demand for gun shows, including the total number of gun laws within-state and in neighboring states, local and in-flowing population size, and proportion of the local and in-flowing population who were gun owners. Bayesian conditional autoregressive Poisson models estimated associations between neighboring-state universal background check law and the presence of a gun show in each county while accounting for spatial dependencies and nesting of counties within states. Of the 1869 identified gun shows, nine of the states in which they occurred had a universal background check law. The presence of excess gun shows in counties near states with universal background check laws is consistent with the hypothesis that gun shows service demand from people seeking to circumvent prohibitions against gun purchases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107094
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Background check laws
  • Gun shows
  • Guns


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