After weeks of negotiations a contract between Saxet Gun Shows and Travis County will expire without being renewed due to the companies refusal to consider background checks on person to person individual gun purchases.
National Instant Criminal Background Checks are provided free by the FBI and take just moments to perform but the owner of Saxet says, “it is it is not really my job to infringe on anyone's rights.” According to the Statesman, “The background checks would have affected a small subset of gun show sales, estimated to be about 10 percent. Federally-licensed firearms sellers are already required to run a criminal background check…” So, the gun show host will have to find a new venue or commit to at least a pilot program where background checks will be enforced for all private transactions at the facility. The contract was worth about $100,000 to the county.
This is round two of a battle that ensued last year when local activist tried to push background checks that would have closed the “gun show loophole” after the tragedy of Newtown sparked a national debate on gun violence. The loophole refers to the fact that private person to person sales of firearms do not require background checks. After the failed attempt Atty. General Greg Abbott shot off on Twitter claiming “If Austin or Travis Co. try to ban gun shows they better be ready for a double-barreled lawsuit.” Ironic, since Abbott claims to support local control.
“It seems Saxet believes they have a constitutional right to use the Expo Center and that is not true,” said County Judge Sam Biscoe. Saxet simply refused the terms they were given, but Briscoe said the County was preparing for the possibility of litigation.
While some gun enthusiasts have taken to the comment section of various news outlets to express their discontent many aspiring politicians are weighing in with their support of the County's decision.
Former City Councilwoman and candidate for Commissioner Precinct 2 Brigid Shea said, “I don't understand why reasonable people wouldn't want background checks on anyone buying guns.” Her opponents seem to agree. Garry Brown who served as Chief of Staff to former County Commissioner Karen Huber testified before the court on the issue and supported an effort to, “reassess whether Travis County should allow county property and taxpayers dollars to continue supporting a system where there are gun show loopholes.” Richard Jung, an immigration attorney and former businessman in the tech industry who has served on a number of local boards and commissions, said that he was, “glad that felons and other people who should not be able to purchase semi automatic weapons and large volumes of ammunition will not be able to do so on Travis County public facilities.”
Austin and Travis County have a reputation for progressive activism and innovation but it appears that Saxet was not interested in a compromise that would could have set an important precedent in how local officials in large urban communities can deal with the threat of gun violence without infringing on anyone's right to bear arms. Greg Abbott and other advocates of increasing gun prevalence in public should pay close attention, Travis County did not take your gunshow away, they walked away.
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