(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Max Slowik)
The Nashville, Tenn. Fairgrounds will no longer be home to gun shows after more than 30 years of tradition. The Metro Board of Fair Commissioners voted to stop hosting gun shows at the city’s public property. The decision was made after the board was informed of three recent gun deals that broke the law.
The vote was 3-0, according to the Tennessean, with one abstention.
“We’re responsible for this facility and the activity that goes on here,” said board chairman Ned Horton, who voted to stop hosting future gun shows. “Based on what I’m seeing here–we’re not trial judges, but we do have information in the court system–it seems to me that our promoter, or our promoters, have not been good stewards of our property.”
The three cases that were cited include two sales to prohibited persons and one federal case involving a sale to be smuggled to Australia dating back to 2011. Nashville district attorney Jenny Charles said, “It begs the question, how many more are there? We don’t know and we can’t know because there’s no paperwork required in Tennessee when a private seller sells a gun.”
“We’ve got to ask ourselves at the end of the day: What is hosting a monthly gun show at the fairgrounds add to the community of Nashville?” said Nashville mayor Megan Barry. “Is this activity enhancing safety in Nashville? I would submit in these three instances, it did not.”
Naturally, local gun show attendees were offended by the new policy and are expected to protest the decision. “This place is going to be packed with people at the next meeting,” said regular David Goodman, who runs Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Show.
“If somebody goes in and steals something at Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart didn’t do nothing wrong, the person did,” Goodman said. “Everything I’ve done is legal.”
Many vendors are FFLs and are required to run background checks on their buyers at gun shows. These vendors are being shut down due to the result of the three private sales gone wrong.
The board made their decision after a meeting with 14 gun control activists who called for the end of gun shows at the fairgrounds, including Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, head of the Tennessee Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, who said that gun shows are “dangerous and reckless.”
This decision has no effect on private sales, which take place across Tennessee and the rest of the country every day with a few exceptions. It only bans gun shows at the Fairgrounds.
Board commissioner Kenny Byrd led the call for restrictions on gun show operations, and previously demanded signs posted stating that all gun sales require background checks, which is not the case in Tennessee.
Byrd also criticized political-related content hosted at the show, including bumper stickers and T-shirts reading “Keep America Free: Shoot a liberal.”
“That’s not family-friendly events,” Byrd said. “I’m a liberal. I don’t want to be shot…and I don’t want you selling stuff with that message.”
Facing resistance from gun show regulars including Goodman, Byrd instead made the push to shut down all gun show operations.
Barry’s spokesman Sean Braisted repeated an earlier statement on the issue, saying, “Our fairgrounds should be safe, secure and free from illegal activity.”
The Tennessee Firearms Association slammed the decision.
“Today, Nashville, under its new liberal Mayor, has thumbed its nose at Nashville gun enthusiasts by voiding a long-standing tradition of allowing gun shows at the centrally-located and publicly-owned Nashville Fairgrounds,” said executive director John Harris.
“Tennessee continues to suffer from the chronic infringement of its citizens’ Constitutional rights by elected officials who refuse to keep their oaths of office to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ those same rights,” continued Harris. “Their actions are a clear abuse of power.”
“On behalf of NRA members across the state of Tennessee, we oppose the removal of gun shows from the schedule of activities at The Fairgrounds Nashville and hope that this board will not pander to the misguided politics of the anti-freedom agenda,” said Harris, speaking for the NRA.