TRAVIS COUNTY -- Travis County commissioners will not extend the Saxet Gun Show's contract at the Travis County Expo Center.
Saxet owners say they're willing to post signs encouraging background checks. They'd hoped that would be enough to keep the event at the Expo Center, but after Commissioner Gerald Daugherty's motion to extend the contract died at the Travis County commissioners' meeting Tuesday, they didn't even vote. That means the gun show's time at the Expo Center could be winding down for good.
"It's not that we're against background checks. That's not it," said Gus Cargile.
Cargile, 91, started the Saxet Gun Show more than 40 years ago.
"Two individuals that are not licensed cannot run a background check, with no facilities for them to do that," Cargile said.
Tuesday Cargile and his son-in-law spoke to Travis County commissioners about extending the Saxet Gun Show contract at the Expo Center past January 2015.
"We've been in the Austin area for 20 years. We've never had a problem, nor since we've been out of the county, I don't believe you've ever heard a complaint," said Todd Beiter with the Saxet Gun Show.
In order to renew the gun show contract, commissioners want to require background checks for everyone who buys a weapon at the event. Federally-licensed firearms sellers are required to do so.
Private sellers are not.
"This gun show loophole allows I think 6.6 million to get their hands on guns without a background check every year, and some number of those people are definitely breaking the law," said Hilary Rand with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Rand waited for hours to speak to Travis County commissioners. She says they shouldn't back down.
"Background checks are an easy way to ensure responsible gun sales," Rand said.
But gun owner Martin Cohn disagrees. "I think there's a big misconception about what happens at gun shows. It's not anything illegal that goes on there," he said. "There's no statistical proof that background checks decrease crime. The kind of people who go to the gun show aren't the kind of people that are committing crimes."
There will be a Saxet Gun Show at the Expo Center on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, 2014. That's the final date on the existing contract.
Last year Saxet held eight gun shows at the Expo Center.
Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe says all in all the events brought in about $800,000.