Gun shows could be a thing of the past at the Tucson Convention Center if Councilman Steve Kozachik gets his way.
Kozachik wants to prohibit gun shows on city-owned property until either the state legislature or the U.S. Congress passes a bill requiring background checks on all gun sales.
“Continuing to allow person-to-person gun sales without the requirement of any background checks is a clear threat to the health and safety of the community. If any place has a right to be sensitive about that, Tucson does,” Kozachik said.
“It’s my belief, and I’m hearing it daily now, that we should take a leadership position in saying “no” to gun shows on public property until the state or the feds fix the clear gap in the law that allows people to buy weapons without the seller having any knowledge of who they are or what their background is.”
Federal law mandates that only licensed firearm dealers must conduct a background check. Private sales, regardless of where the transaction occurs, are unregulated.
Kozachik will introduce the item at the next council meeting, Feb. 5. If approved, he hopes the prohibition will take effect immediately and prevent city staff from issuing permits to gun shows to lease the TCC.
The move will affect a lone company, the Phoenix-based McMann Roadrunner Gun Show, which holds about three shows a year at the convention center.
Owner Lori McMann said she doesn’t understand why the city would want to keep her out of the TCC.
“They don’t have any basis to not rent to us. We’ve had no rule violations or any law violations,” McMann said. “I don’t know why they would be proposing this since it has already been defeated once.”
“A city cannot make a law that supercedes state or federal law,” she said.
The legal challenge McMann referenced was a lawsuit filed years ago by her parents, Pat and Joan McMann, over a city ordinance that required instant background checks on all firearm purchases at gun shows held at the TCC.
Although an appeals court ruled in favor of the city in 2002, City Attorney Mike Rankin said the state Legislature has amended state law to work around the ruling.
Though the city can’t require instant background checks on vendors, Rankin said the city still retains the right over who can lease city property.
“Those changes don’t override our charter authority, which comes from the Constitution and not from the Legislature,” Rankin wrote in an email. “Under McMann, as a charter city, we can still decide how to operate our convention center, including deciding how the property will be used, and specifically whether it will be used for gun shows.”
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.