Gun shows could soon be banned in the last place one might expect: Deep in the heart of Texas.
Officials in Austin, Texas and the surrounding Travis County are set to vote this week on measures that would prohibit gun shows on public and private property. The county is expected to vote on Tuesday, according to The Austin American Statesman. City officials are expected to follow suit shortly thereafter.
The bans would not affect the ability of law abiding citizens to obtain weapons. Instead, by banning gun shows, officials hope to prevent criminals and straw buyers from purchasing firearms in an unregulated environment, which allows them to pass the weapons to individuals who would not otherwise be able to purchase them at retail.
Critics of unregulated firearms sales, like the National Gun Victims Action Council, say that about 30 percent of guns trafficked by criminals and later picked up by federal agents are ultimately traced to gun shows — including the weapons used in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.
The effort to ban gun shows is, in a sense, a reaction to the unrestricted sales that take place at such events. Although a background check is required by law, many criminals pay others to purchase weapons for them, which are immediately turned over at gun shows. Many dealers also flout the law and sell weapons without background checks, which is legal so long as the dealer isn’t officially licensed.
In addition, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is incomplete because it makes reporting criminals, undocumented immigrants, abusive spouses and the mentally ill a voluntary procedure for individual states.
Nine gun shows are scheduled to take place in Travis County in 2013, according to KEYE-TV in Austin. Canceling them would cost about $128,000, county officials reportedly estimated.
This video is from KEYE-TV, aired Monday, January 7, 2013.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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