Posted on January 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Thursday, Jan 17 at 4:53 PM
AUSTIN -- Travis County commissioners took a vote Tuesday on a controversial ban on gun shows.
There are some legal issues surrounding their decision. Commissioners went into executive session around 10:30 Tuesday morning to meet with county legal representatives to discuss those legal ramifications.
About an hour later, commissioners announced they would honor existing gun show contracts at the Travis County Expo Center.
If it had been approved, the ban would have meant no gun shows could be held in any county-owned building.
There was a mix of reaction from the community. Some say the ban goes too far. Others say it's long overdue. Tuesday morning one person went before the commissioners during the time of citizen communication.
John Woods supports the ban. His girlfriend, Maxine Turner, died in the Virginia Tech shooting. Woods wants tougher background checks and says a ban on gun shows is a start; even if it means a legal battle.
“If they lost a son or a daughter or a parent or a significant other then they would see you can't put a price on a human life like that,” said Woods. “You gotta do what's right and if making sure that there are no gun shows, making sure that there are no unlicensed sales happening in these public building saves even one life, then that should be worth it.”
Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gomez of Precinct 4 hinted prior to the start of Tuesday’s meeting that the vote would come down to rejecting the proposal based on the legal issues.
“The county doesn’t have the authority to ban gun shows. It is part of the oath that we take that we uphold the Texas laws as well as the U.S. Constitution,” explained Gomez. “Texas does not allow counties or local governments to exercise this kind of authority.”
Gomez says the only way the court could move forward with a ban is to go before state legislators, asking for a state law.
Gomez says the court will continue looking at other options to ease the concerns of county residents.
“People have mentioned that we need to pay attention to the mental health issues,” said Gomez.
She said the county has set aside $1 million to serve as a match to a federal waiver that will be used toward improving resources for the mentally ill.
“People are saying that guns get into the wrong hands. I think we need to pay attention to the human side of this issue,” said Gomez.