NewsMontana and Regional News


Billings gun show attendees react to new federal rule on firearm sales

To go into effect in early May
Browsing at a gun show
Posted at 8:21 AM, Apr 14, 2024

BILLINGS — The Biden administration is one step closer to eliminating the so-called 'gun show loophole'. On Thursday, it finalized a rule requiring people who sell firearms online and at gun shows to conduct background checks on potential buyers.

It's an idea The White House said is increasing requirements to better help regulate the market.

In Billings, gun shows are nothing out of the ordinary. They occur frequently at MetraPark with thousands walking through, browsing new and used guns. But the new rule finalized this week could bring major change to the future of gun shows across the country.

"I like looking at all the guns and the ammo and stuff,” said Chance Mertz, a Billings teen, on Saturday. "(Gun shows are) way more special than going to a pawn shop."

Mertz said he attends every gun show that comes to Billings.

M1923 Cartridge Belt
M1923 Cartridge Belt

On Saturday, he picked up the above M1 Garand M1923 cartridge belt, dated back to WWII from a gun show at the Metra.

"It has the clips that go inside of it,” Mertz said.

Chance Mertz
Chance Mertz

But soon, his favorite outing could see a major change after the finalization of the new rule.

"This is stupid. You have other things, better things that need to be handled,” said Randy Stiles, a veteran attending the gun show, on Saturday.

The Department of Justice finalized the rule, placing requirements on those attempting to sell firearms.

Browsing at a gun show
Browsing at a gun show

"The guns you have the executive order for are people that are law-abiding citizens that take care of their guns, take care of the people that handle their guns,” Stiles said.

Stiles said it's an unfair move to law-abiding citizens attempting to purchase or sell firearms.

"Politicians need to think about who they work for, right?" Stiles said. "Coming from a veteran's point of view, the government trained me. And now you want to come and try to take my guns?”

Randy Stiles
Randy Stiles

Current rules require licensed gun dealers to perform criminal background checks on purchasers but private sales have long been exempted.

This all comes within days of the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting that was carried out using firearms bought through a ‘gun show loophole’.

But Stiles said criminals will always find a way.

"The ones you need to worry about are the ones that won't listen to you to begin with,” said Stiles.

The rule is set to go into effect in early May, meaning gun shows like the one happening this weekend at the Metra could be the last of its kind.

Signs at the Billings gun show
Signs at the Billings gun show

But Stiles said most dealers at Billings gun shows have already gone through proper licensing and conduct background checks.

"What do you think is going to happen? That's the stupidest thing ever,” Stiles said.

One thing's for sure, the new rule stirs emotions for gun owners like Stiles.

"The politicians need to quit bickering, whether Republican or Democrat is better or whatever," Stiles said. "This new executive order, it's stupid."

To learn more about the rule, click here.