Tacoma considering gun show background checks

TACOMA — The Tacoma City Council will consider a resolution next week that would require background checks for gun purchases at gun shows on city property.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is one of the sponsors of the resolution that would eliminate the so-called gun show exemption, The News Tribune reported Friday.

The proposal would require a successful background check before any firearm sale, purchase or transfer, including when the seller is not a federally licensed firearm dealer. The rule would apply to events held on property owned or managed by the city.

The council will consider the resolution Tuesday night.

More than 6,200 people attended the two-day gun show last weekend at the Tacoma Dome, the facility’s first gun show in 23 years. The majority of the booths were rented by firearms dealers, who are required by federal law to do background checks. State law does not require background checks if someone buys from a private seller at a gun show.

The operator of the show says he 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,” Wes Knodel wrote in an email. “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.”

Strickland recently said she had wanted to require background checks for all firearms sales at the Tacoma Dome show but the contract had already been signed.

The Tacoma 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 plans to book five more dates through next year, which could net the Dome another $275,000.

Competing gun initiatives will be on the November ballot in Washington state. One would require background checks for all gun sales in the state. The other would prohibit new background checks unless supported by a federal law.

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