Leaders in a number of cities and counties around the nation are looking to ban gun shows in their respective jurisdictions in the aftermath of the Newtown elementary school shooting.
Officials in the city of Austin, TX, and Travis County are considering a proposal that would prohibit gun shows on city and county owned land, at city and county facilities and maybe even on private property within city limits, according to the American-Statesman.
If passed, the proposal would primarily affect gun shows held at the Travis County Exposition Center, which is located on city property and has a long-term lease with the county.
Officials told the American-Statesman that eight gun-shows are scheduled at the popular venue through 2013 and that the county is expected to generate $128,000 from those shows. They are unclear as to what will happen to those contracts if the gun-show ban is passed.
City council member Mike Martinez told KUT.org that “there is a broad national conversation about curbing gun violence,” and he thinks the city has a responsibility “to do everything we can do.
As a subcommittee prepares to review the proposal and hear opinions from the Mayor’s staff and the police chief next Tuesday, Martinez tried to offer assurance that the intention of the proposal isn’t to curtail the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
“This is not an issue, as some are reporting, of precluding gun shows or stopping people from legally buying a firearm,” Martinez added. “This is simply asking the question: should a publicly-owned facility be used for these types of events.”
Opponents of the measure disagree.
“I can’t think of anything dumber,” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a gun owner, told the American-Statesman. “It’s absolutely not going to reduce gun violence.”
Local gun-store proprietor Charles Harris added that the proposal is nothing but “a feel-good thing. Politicians saying, ‘Look what we’re doing. We’re doing something to curb gun violence,’ when in reality, it doesn’t do anything to prevent crimes. Criminals can still get a gun on the streets anyway. I think there are other laws that can do a lot more good to get bad guys away from their guns.”
A similar effort is underway in Glendale, CA, where councilman Rafi Manoukian is attempting to ban gun shows within 1,000 feet of Glendale Community College, which would effectively prohibit gun sales across the street at the auditorium (where most gun shows are held), as the LA Times reported.
On Jan. 15, this coming Tuesday, the Glendale City Council will review Manoukian’s proposal.
In 2006, when Manoukian was mayor of the city, he tried to push through a municipal law that would have banned gun shows outright within city limits. That bill did not garner enough support within the council to warrant a vote.
However, this time things are different, supposedly. Manoukian feels that on the heels of Sandy Hook and with a more narrowly tailored proposal, the odds are in his favor.
“It’s always been on my mind,” Manoukian told the LA Times. “At this point, we have to take a step.”
But like in Austin, local detractors don’t see a clear causation between gun shows and crime.
“Somebody needs to make the connections to me on how banning the gun show … will go toward achieving those goals,” said Councilman Ara Najarian.
Indeed, where’s the proof that gun shows are linked with crime?
Statistically speaking, a study done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics Department in 1997 showed that among State inmates possessing a gun, fewer than 2 percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show, about 12 percent from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80 percent from family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source.
The city of Glendale generated $54,473 dollars of revenue from gun shows in 2012. And, as mentioned, Travis County will make approximately $128,000 this year off of gun shows. So, while its unclear as to what effect (if any) banning gun shows will have on crime, what is clear is that those cities and counties who choose to do so will leave tax revenue on the table – probably not the best decision in these tough economic times.