Council to Consider Background Check Requirement for Gun Sales

Last week we wrote that Mayor Strickland and other members of the Tacoma City Council had expressed concern over the lack of background checks for private sales of guns at a Tacoma Dome gun show. This week a resolution appears on the City Council meeting agenda that would require background checks for all gun sales at City-owned and City-managed facilities - that would include both the Tacoma Dome and the Convention Center.

A post-event summary of the recent Wes Knodel Gun Show at the Tacoma Dome says that more than 6,200 attendees came out to the event over its two days at the Dome. The show generated $45,000 net revenue for the Dome, including a discounted first-time rent. The Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the economic impact of the show to the City at $1.1 million. No incidents related to the event were reported by police officers posted on site during the event. 

Most of the vendors at the April show were federally licensed sellers, required to perform background checks on gun purchasers. For private sellers in his Washington shows, Knodel captures purchaser information, but does not require background checks on customers, per federal and state law. 

Knodel has requested to book future shows at the Dome in November of this year, and February, April, September, and December of 2015. Those shows are anticipated to generate net proceeds of $55,000 each, for a total of $275,000. According to a memo attached to the resolution, although Washington State law does not require background checks for private gun sales at gun shows, Knodel is willing and prepared to require background checks, if the City decides to require them. 

The memo concludes with three options for Council consideration:

  1. Proceed with contracting the gun shows under the existing license agreement terms - without background check requirements for private sellers.
  2. Proceed with contracting the gun shows but include language in the license agreement requiring background checks to be performed for all gun sales transactions; 
  3. Not proceed with booking gun shows, resulting a loss of revenue for the Tacoma Dome. 

We'll expect to hear more about the legal considerations around this issue at tomorrow's Committee of the Whole meeting, and at the regular Council meeting. It might be an interesting conversation...

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Based on the post event summary, which found no problems related to it, this City Council resolution appears to be unnecessary, and possibly counter-productive. 

May 6, 2014 at 8:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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