Gun show owner alleges rights violation



Posted on January 19, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 20 at 11:18 AM

A gun show owner says the Austin Police Department violated his constitutional rights. Police are now setting the record straight.

The controversy centers around a yellow flyer passed out at the Texas Gun Show in North Austin last weekend. It reads:

 "Selling of Firearms"

 At the direction of the Austin Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, anyone selling a firearm at this show location will be asked to comply with the following:
 1. Any person selling a personal firearm must go through a licensed FFL dealer in the show to transfer the  firearm to the new owner.

 2. Selling of firearms in the parking lot will not be permitted. 

 Thank you for your cooperation!

APD Detective T.J. Vineyard told reporters in a news conference Tuesday, the recommendations were the result of a year long police investigation of the gun shows.

"Every time we were there we observed transactions that were either questionable or illegal so our effort was to find ways to address that,” he said.

Vineyard said the goal of the operation was to stop illegal gun trafficking to Mexico.

"Some people would go to vendors to purchase a firearm, and when they were asked to fill out paperwork to do a background check they would bypass that vendor and go to another vendor that wouldn't require a background check,” Vineyard said.

HEB rents out the building where the gun shows are held. APD called a meeting with HEB representatives to figure out a plan to stop the problem. APD and members of the ATF recommended show owner Darwin Boedeker stop allowing private citizens to sell guns without the assistance of a licensed dealer. Thus, forcing every buyer to have a background check.

"Most of the people who are trying to achieve legitimate sales of firearms want that protection, They want to know the gun they're buying isn't stolen or the person they sold a gun to isn't a felon or on parole for murder,” Vineyard said.

Boedeker says the request is a violation of our constitutional right to freely sell guns.

"What they want to do is shut the gun shows down. This just doesn't affect me. This affects you, this affects the person down the road, every law abiding citizen,” he said.

Boedeker went along with the recommendations for last weekend's show, but still APD made an arrest. He says HEB has since told him he can no longer hold shows here. Boedeker is convinced police wanted HEB to make that call.

"At least they knew where to go to arrest them. If there wasn't a gun show, they'd be down in a back alley. Felons are always going to be able to get a gun. That's why they're felons. They don't follow the law,” Boedeker said.

"We didn't mandate anything, we didn't direct anyone to do anything. We made suggestions to them and how to handle that with their tenants or sub-leasers is a civil matter among them," Vineyard said.

Police say during the past year they have arrested eight people on illegal weapons charges. Texas Gun Shows has been using the North Austin Event Center since November. Before that the Saxet Gun Show was there. Boedeker says he knows of only one arrest since he's used the property. He says he's trying to find a new location for his show.