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Commissioners turn down gun show deal

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This weekend will be the last gun show at the Travis County Expo Center. A new compromise deal pitched Monday was turned down by County Commissioners.

Negotiations with Saxet Trade shows broke down two weeks ago, but two key managers returned Monday in hopes of winning a new contract. The impasse is over a requirement to have all sales go through background checks, including purchases between private individuals.

"Gun shows are not a source for crime. We provide a safe place for likeminded people to gather," said Saxet manager Todd Beiter.

The yearlong contract with Saxet to hold gun shows at the Expo Center is worth about $100,000 for the county. Commissioners, during public testimony, were told the amount was not worth a life.

"We are not banning anything. There is no impact ... it's just a contract, that's all it is," said Ed Scruggs, who supports the tougher background check requirement.

As a compromise, representatives with Saxet told commissioners they are willing to provide private individuals paperwork to show proof of sales that may take place during their events but argued they cannot force them to background check each other.

Those who support the background requirement for all sales at the Expo Center urged commissioners not to back down - claiming it will close a dangerous loophole that can allow illegal sales.

"We are not suggesting it will stop all gun violence," admitted Hilary Rand, with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

But Rand believes the tougher rule can help save lives.

According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, six states have laws requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows. Those states are California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. Three more states - Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania - require background checks on all handgun sales made at gun shows. Eight other states - Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska and North Carolina - require purchasers to obtain a permit and undergo a background check before buying a handgun. Thirty-three states, including Texas, have taken no action to close the gun show loophole.

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