Austin
3:47 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Travis County Commissioners Decline to Renew Gun Show Contract (Update)

The Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in 2007. Travis County Commissioners are considering doing away with gun shows that take place on publicly-owned property.
Credit flickr.com/glasgows

Update: Travis County Commissioners effectively ended their contract with Saxet Gun Show today by refusing to renew their contract to operate at the Travis County Expo Center.

The majority of commissioners declined to renew the contract after the promoter refused to allow background checks for all purchases, not just purchases from federally licensed vendors, which already require checks. The term would have closed the so-called gun show "loophole," says Judge Sam Biscoe. He estimates 10 percent of purchases at Saxet shows are done without background checks.

"So far we have been unwilling to give them a new contract without background checks as a term,” Biscoe tells KUT. “So as long as they insist on not doing background checks on this 10 percent, unless we change our minds, they’re still without a contract.”

Original Story (8:12 a.m.): Travis County Commissioners may vote today on whether to continue allowing a gun show to operate at the Travis County Expo Center. 

The Saxet Gun Show has been a regular event at the county-owned Expo Center since 2010, but last year - a few weeks after shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six educators dead - some people pushed Travis County Commissioners to ban gun shows at county facilities. 

Advocates of banning the events worried about the "gun show loophole," which gun control advocates argue allows people to purchase firearms from other private citizens without the background check required when purchasing from a licensed dealer.

But when the commission first considered doing away with gun shows on publically-owned land a year ago, the NRA responded by calling for its members to speak out against the proposal. Gubernatorial candidate and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot also told commissioners they could expect a lawsuit if they proceeded with the ban. County staffers said banning the nine scheduled gun shows would cost the county about $128,000 in rental fees, parking and food sales.

But one year later, the county commissioners are looking to ban gun shows going forward rather than cancel previously planned events. The item before the commissioners today is whether to renew a contract with the Saxet Gun Show through January 2015. 

The commission is meeting at 9 this morning at the Travis County Administration Building on Lavaca Street in Austin. A discussion between the commissioners and the county attorney may take place in an executive session behind closed doors, but proceedings open to the public can be seen on TCTV-17.