Tacoma could require background checks for gun shows on city property

Staff writerMay 2, 2014 

The Tacoma City Council will consider a resolution next week to eliminate the so-called gun show loophole for gun shows held on city property.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is one sponsor of the resolution, which requires a successful background check “prior to any firearm sale, purchase or transfer, including where the seller is not a federally licensed firearm dealer” if the event is held on property owned or managed by the city.

The council will consider the resolution Tuesday night. Strickland supports universal background checks for gun sales and recently said she wanted to require background checks for all firearms sales at a gun show at the Tacoma Dome last weekend, but the contract had already been signed.

More than 6,200 people attended the two-day gun show last weekend at the Tacoma Dome. Wes Knodel signed a contract in November 2013 for weekend’s show, the Dome’s first in 23 years.

The Dome earned $45,000 for Knodel’s show, according to a memo written by Kim Bedier, the city’s director of public assembly facilities. Knodel is prepared to book five more dates through next year, which could net the Dome another $275,000.

When reached by email Thursday night, Knodel said his gun show is ready to provide background checks for all firearm sales if the city requires them.

“If it is not required we will make it possible for those who wish to use it,” Knodel wrote. “Wes Knodel Gun Shows wishes to do all we can to promote public safety without treading on the rights or civil liberties of responsible gun owners.”

The majority of the booths at Knodel’s show were rented by firearms dealers, who are required by federal law to delve into gun buyers’ backgrounds before selling them a firearm. But state law currently does not require background checks if someone buys from a private seller at a gun show.

In addition to Strickland, Tacoma council members Ryan Mello and Victoria Woodards also are sponsoring the background check resolution.

Tacoma Police reported no problems with Knodel’s gun show, the city memo states. Knodel has hosted gun shows in Oregon and Washington for many years.

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