Bill Aims To Keep Gun Shows At Fairgrounds

Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 23:27:13-05

The debate over gun shows at the Nashville fairgrounds has fired up once again courtesy of a bill headed to Metro Council next week.

Council Member Steve Glover will present legislation that would order the Board of Fair Commissioners to reserve a certain number of weekends in 2017 for gun shows at the fairgrounds.  This comes after the Board voted last week to stand by its December decision to stop future gun shows at the fairgrounds, unless operators agree to new safety rules.

“What I’m trying to do is say everybody back down,” said Glover, who represents District 12.  “Let’s keep everything on track until a court of law has spoken here.”

Glover’s bill would require the number of reserved weekends for gun shows to be the same as the number shows typically held at the fairgrounds in the past.  Glover said gun show operators will start booking events for 2017 in the next few months.

Glover said he is concerned the Fair Board violated a Metro Charter Amendment with its recent vote on the issue, and the city may face lawsuits from gun show operators as a result.

“I’m trying to protect the taxpayers in Nashville,” said Glover.  “Whether you are for guns or not, the point is if we lose this, the taxpayers will have to cough up the bill and pay the fees on these lawsuits.”

No lawsuits have been filed as of Friday.

Due to existing contracts, gun shows will continue to be held at the fairgrounds through 2016.  Fair Board Members have said beginning in 2017, the gun show operators will have to agree to new safety terms, or the shows won’t be allowed at the city-owned property.

Board Members said they do not believe the vote violated the Metro Charter, and the Metro Council should let the 5 member board do its job.

“The way the charter works is the Fair Board members have complete control over the fairgrounds,” said Kenny Byrd, a member of the Metro Fair Board.  “Every person worth their salt here in Nashville has said our actions do not violate any law.”

Byrd said safety concerns were largely behind the Fair Board’s vote to stop the gun shows.  He said the Board shouldn’t be forced to reserve weekends for gun shows when more family friendly events could be booked instead.  However, the Fair Board would be open to hosting gun shows in 2017, if operators met certain safety requirements.

“We either have gun shows that are unfettered, unregulated, risky and dangerous,” said Byrd.  “Or we don’t have them at all.”

Glover will present the bill at Tuesday’s Metro Council Meeting for the first of three votes.

Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife show is scheduled at the Nashville Fairgrounds on Mar. 19-20.  It will be followed by the R.K. Gun and Knife show on Apr. 2-3.