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Travis County offers new contract, old terms for gun show contract renewal

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Travis County commissioners are once again trying to renew a contract with Saxet Gun Shows so the company will continue using the county’s Exposition Center for eight scheduled gun shows. Still present, however, the county’s requirement that non-licensed sellers conduct background checks, a requirement unlikely to be conceded.

A year ago, weeks after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, the commissioners considered, but then backed off banning gun shows on county property.

Negotiations earlier this year broke down as the county was ready to renew the company’s contract, but with a new provision requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check. At that time, Saxet Gun Shows owner Todd Beiter told the Austin American-Statesman that neither state nor federal law requires background checks by private sellers, and “it is not really my job to infringe on anyone’s rights.”

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the commissioners approved a new Saxet contract although it again requires private sale background checks, checks not required by state or federal laws.

Austin media reports the contract a “non-starter” with Beiter responding in this written statement:

“Saxet Gun Show can not accept or enforce a contractual agreement made by two parties that have no legal ramifications either by Federal, State or Local laws to the individuals,” he added in a written statement. “Nor can we take upon ourselves to restrict any individual right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the Bill of Rights.”

Saxet’s near-monthly shows represent about 10 percent of the Expo Center’s total $1.15 million annual revenue. Eight new shows were proposed from March 2014 to January 2015.

The Statesman reported this reaction to County Judge Sam Biscoe and the commissioners’ action:

Frances Schenkkan, with Texas Gun Sense, applauded Biscoe’s move, telling commissioners “This is a very important step to try to come to some sort of agreement to how we’re going to allow them to have their rights and how we’re going to have a safe county.”

County resident Michael Fossum told commissioners that requiring background checks “is a solution in search for a problem.”

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