Updated Jan 17, 2013 - 10:41 am
Tucson official would ban gun shows from facility
TUCSON, Ariz. -- A city councilman wants Tucson to ban gun shows at the city-owned convention center until the state or the federal government requires background checks for every gun sale.
Councilman Steve Kozachik said he'll propose the ban during the council's Feb. 5 meeting.
"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.
Tucson was the site of a January 2011 mass shooting that killed six people and left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 other people injured.
The city stands to lose around $15,000 per gun show if it enacts a ban, which would affect one company that holds several shows a year at the convention center, the Arizona Daily Star reported Thursday.
Owner Lori McMann of Phoenix-based McMann Roadrunner Gun Show said her company obeys the law and that she doesn't understand why the city would want to keep turn away her business.
"They don't have any basis to not rent to us," she said.
Barring a successful lawsuit to challenge state law, the city cannot require instant background checks on gun purchases at shows at the convention center, City Attorney Mike Rankin said.
However, the city can decide how to operate the convention center, "including deciding how the property will be used, and specifically whether it will be used for gun shows," Rankin said.
Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association and national board member of the National Rifle Association, said Kozachik's proposal would be hostile to gun owners and ineffective in keeping guns away from mentally unstable people.
"None of the firearms used by madmen in recent tragedies were purchased at gun shows," Rathner said. "Why would the City Council target a legitimate, legal, tax-paying business that has nothing to do with those recent tragedies? It's simply illogical."
Kozachik said his proposal is only a first step.
"This is the low-hanging fruit in the discussion. Let's at least agree on the easy stuff and hold the disagreements for the more controversial parts of the issue of gun control," he said. "This isn't one of those."
Kozachik said he would like Pima County to consider a similar measure for gun shows held at the county fairgrounds, but a top county official was cool to the idea.
"We wouldn't be inclined to tell our Southwest Fair Commission what to do," county administrator Chuck Huckelberry said. "The Board of Supervisors has not been inclined to tell them what to do or get in their business."