Travis County Commissioners have backed away from a plan to ban gun shows from public land.
County commissioners said Tuesday that their hands are tied and they are unable to ban guns shows outright.
The contract with Saxet, a gun show operator, for nine gun shows in 2013 at the Travis County Exposition Center, will stand. The future of those shows was uncertain while commissioners discussed the proposed ban.
Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe said the county is in talks with Saxet about voluntary background checks for all guns sold at the show, but admitted that could be cost-prohibitive for some vendors. Judge Biscoe said that the Travis County Sheriff’s Office may explore ways to ease that burden.
Judge Biscoe said Attorney General Greg Abbott's threat of a "double-barreled lawsuit" did not play into the decision.
"You are selling and trading guns without restrictions,” he said. “Unfortunately, state and federal law preempt the area, so there is very little that local governmental entities can do."
That realization may table any action by Austin City Council, but Council Member Mike Martinez said he’s still exploring what could be done.
"It is our responsibility as Council members to determine if there is something we can do and that we find out what that is," he said.
Martinez points out that the Council is not currently considering a ban on gun shows at its facilities. However, he said his committee would like to get a better understanding of the city's role in gun sales.
On Tuesday, Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix briefed the Health and Human Services Subcommittee on the results of APD’s “Guns to Groceries” program.
He said they reclaimed and destroyed nearly 800 firearms the first two years of its existence.
"These particular guns generally come from lawful gun owners that want to dispose of a weapon without having to worry about what is going to happen to that weapon down the road,” Asst. Chief Mannix said.
Mannix said he did not have data on how many guns which the department has seized which were owned or traded illegally.
Last week, YNN learned Council Member Martinez was exploring limitations for gun shows at city facilities. That is not on Thursday's agenda, and Martinez has not said when—or if—he plans to bring it before the Council.