Guns Hang Fire at Travis County

Motions to amend or approve contract both fail, "left pending"

Guns Hang Fire at Travis County

Just after noon today, Travis County Commissioners Court could not agree on what to do about background checks at future Saxet Gun Shows – so for the moment, they've done nothing. Competing motions either to add background checks or to maintain the current contract each failed for lack of a second – the contract, and issue, was left pending.

Prior to the motions, several speakers spoke for and against new regulations covering the gun shows, which have been a fixture at the Travis County Exposition Center, leased for private events, for some years. In the wake of recent headline gun deaths – most prominently the Dec. 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut – there has been increasing local sentiment to cancel or regulate the Saxet shows, most specifically to require background checks for all gun purchases in or outside the venue. The show contract, lucrative for both the show owners and the county, is up for renewal, hence the consideration of potential amendments.

Several speakers, among them Precinct 2 Commissioner candidate Garry Brown, and gun control activist Ed Scruggs, spoke in favor of greater regulation of the shows and specifically in favor of closing "the gun show loophole" that allows personal gun transactions at shows to proceed without background checks. Several others, among them a lobbyist for the Texas Rifle Association and a Saxet representative, spoke against further restrictions, saying they would amount to discrimination against those who have done no wrong and who are simply exercising their constitutional rights as well as their freedom to do legal business.

When the speakers concluded, Judge Sam Biscoe read a statement indicating that the Saxet owners had showed no willingness to negotiate changes in the contract renewal, and therefore he moved that the contract not be renewed until Saxet would consider amendments. That motion died for lack of a second, with no discussion. Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty immediately moved that the county proceed with the Saxet arrangement on the basis of the existing contract; that motion also failed without a second, and no discussion.

As a consequence, with no action and no motion on the floor, the matter and the contract were "left pending."

Scruggs posted later (via Facebook): "When the current contract runs out (after this month's event) there will be no additional shows in 2014. It appears the only way Saxet could come back is if they volunteer to [agree to] at least a pilot background check – something they've refused to even discuss."

(Following the speakers but prior to the motions, appointed Precinct 2 Commissioner Bruce Todd excused himself to attend a funeral, but his absence did not appear to affect the outcome.)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Travis County Commissioners Court
Gerald Daugherty Says Farewell
Daugherty to Retire
Pct. 3 County Commissioner announces retirement

Michael King, Dec. 6, 2019

State Grant Approved for Public Defender Office
Public Defender Grant Approved
New era in Travis County indigent defense to begin next year

Michael King, Aug. 30, 2019

More Gun Control
Abbott Issues “Safety Action Report” on Gun Violence
Abbott's Gun Violence Report
Recommendations long on surveillance, short on gun restrictions

Michael King, Sept. 16, 2019

Real Guns, Cardboard Guns in Texas Schools
Real Guns, Cardboard Guns in Texas Schools
Firearms groups plan "murder-in" as gun man hides at St. Ed's

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 9, 2015

More by Michael King
Review: <i>You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey</i>
Review: You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
UT could learn a lot from these "crazy stories about racism"

April 13, 2021

SXSW Film Review: <i>Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America</i>
SXSW Film Review: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Jeffery Robinson's captivating lecture on America's shared legacy

March 24, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Travis County Commissioners Court, Saxet Gun Show, gun control

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle