Travis County weighs ban on gun shows on public land
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Gun show promoters stand to lose one of their main venues in Central Texas.
Travis County Commissioners are considering a ban on all gun shows in county-owned buildings. The ban would include the Travis County Exposition Center, which has nine gun shows already on the books for the next year.
Travis County resident Ed Scruggs brought up the concerns last month, following the school massacre in Connecticut. The proposed ban could become permanent for all gun shows in Travis County buildings.
Scruggs made his case before the Commissioners Court again Tuesday.
"Like many parents—to this day—when I see the faces of Sandy Hook victims, I see the face of my five-year-old daughter. I see the face of my nine-year-old son, and I wonder what if," Scruggs said.
But not everyone shares Scruggs' view.
Greg Lazar says the ban would go against state law allowing the sale of guns by private individuals at gun shows.
"If they say it is legal, it is unfair to penalize the gun show for a process where you can sell privately to somebody at the gun show," Lazar said.
Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe says the county gets about $128,000 a year from gun shows at the Expo Center. That breaks down to $103,000 in rental fees, $13,000 in RV rental spaces and $12,000 in concessions.
Promoters have already made deposits for nine shows scheduled through January of 2014.
"The question is where the contracts have been executed already and deposits are put down, do we have the authority now to terminate them?" Judge Biscoe said.
Scruggs pointed out that while the county's potential ban could keep any gun shows from the expo center, they would still be allowed at private venues.
"You are trying to tackle gun violence, but you are allowing AR-15s to be sold out of your largest public building,” Scruggs said. “That doesn't square."
Some opponents to the outright ban suggest other ways to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
James Phipps supports making mental evaluations part of background checks for gun buyers.
"I would have no issue to make sure that these type of people have no access to firearms," Phipps said.
Commissioners are expected to vote on the ban next week.
If it goes into effect as Judge Biscoe plans, at least six scheduled gun shows would be forced to find a new venue.