Appeals court upholds Nashville’s ban on gun shows

A vendor who has been booking gun shows at the fairgrounds for more than 30 years has lost another round in his suit against the venue over their new policy against such events. (Photo: WKRN)

A vendor who has been booking gun shows at the fairgrounds for more than 30 years has lost another round in his suit against the venue over their new policy against such events. (Photo: WKRN)

The Tennessee Court of Appeals last week sided with the Metro Nashville Fair Board’s decision restricting gun shows at its venue.

In a 3-0 opinion handed down last Thursday, the court rejected the challenge by gun rights advocates with the Tennessee Firearms Association and long-time gun show event organizer, Bill Goodman Gun and Knife Shows. In a 15-page ruling, the court held that neither plaintiff had standing to question whether the fair board was violating the law, and that the grounds were recreational in nature, thus skirting state preemption laws.

“Making a decision to allow or disallow a gun show at a government-owned recreational facility is a power specifically recognized ‘by state law,'” said Court of Appeals Judge Brandon O. Gibson. “It is not an unauthorized or preempted de facto local limitation on the transfer of firearms.”

Goodman had been renting fair space since the 1970s, but in 2015 ran afoul of local gun control advocates who pressured Metro to clamp down on the events. The show organizer argued their productions complied with state and federal laws and promised a lawsuit of the board continued with their decision, a threat that saw both sides meet in court last year.

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy agreed with the board last summer, holding the plaintiffs lacked standing and she could not force the fair board to enter into an agreement with them. That ruling was upheld on appeal last week.

Kenny Byrd, a former Metro board commissioner who helped implement the gun show rules while on the board, told The Tennessean he welcomed the news of the suit’s rejection on appeal.

“Now, more than ever, cities need to be able to implement reasonable gun protections,” said Byrd. “We have saved lives by stopping city-funded gun shows.”

Gun rights advocates see the opinion as a continuation of prohibiting activities at the fairgrounds that had previously been extremely popular, the legal battle for which may not be over.

“The decision of the court of appeals may be challenged by asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to consider the matter,” says an alert from the TFA.