For now, no ban on gun shows in Travis County

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by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- After an hour in executive session, it was the law prohibiting cities and counties from regulating gun sales that ultimately stopped Travis County Commissioners from approving a gun show ban.

"I move that we indicate our intention to honor existing gun shows at the Expo Center," said County Judge Sam Briscoe.

"The law, under state law, prevents this court from doing much of anything on this issue," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. 

The commissioners decided Tuesday that all nine of the gun shows scheduled for 2013 will be allowed, while adding a new stipulation for the Expo Center director.

"The director of the Expo Center is to bring to the commissioner's court any licenses involving unusually high safety risk," Briscoe said, referring to events like the Republic of Texas Rally and gun shows.

However, no decisive vote was made leaving the door open for further discussion depending on state and federal legislation.

"Next year I think we're going to go through this all over again," said Jim Phipps, an opponent of the gun show ban on county property.

One issue that the commissioners kept reiterating at Tuesday's meeting was not necessarily gun control, but mental health care issues.

"I do believe that there is a clear majority in our community for universal background checks in order the reduce the probability that a violent felon or mentally-ill individual has access to guns," said Eckhardt.

John Woods' girlfriend, Maxine Turner, was killed in the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. So on the day she would have turned 27 years old, Woods attended the Travis County Commissioner's meeting to fight for more strict laws for gun shows.

"The bottom line here is we need to have universal background checks," Woods said.

Wood said he'll continue to press for better background checks in honor of Maxine.

"If it saves even one life, to me, it's worth the money that it takes to fight that," said Woods.

Judge Sam Briscoe tells KVUE an option they are considering is assisting in background checks for private gun sellers at gun shows, since only licensed gun dealers are required by law to run a background check before selling a firearm.

That is an issue they will have to take up with the individual companies who host gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center.

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