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Gun rights activist on new Tacoma law: ‘A lot of flash, very little substance’

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Wes Knodel of Oregon hosted a recent gun show at the Tacoma Dome, sparking a new city resolution to require background checks. (Photo courtesy:

TACOMA — On Tuesday night, the Tacoma City Council passed a resolution that will now require background checks at all gun shows on city owned and/or maintained property, closing the so-called gun show loophole.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the resolution stemmed from a gun show at the Tacoma Dome in late April, the first of its kind at this venue in more than 20 years where private sellers were able to sell guns on site with no buyer background check required. Most gun dealers already perform background checks.

“Background checks can help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and, as a city, we try very hard to keep our community safe and this is one of the ways we can make that happen,” said Strickland.

Gun rights advocates say they don’t plan to fight the resolution because the state Supreme Court ruled on a case out of Sequim in 2006 that a city can pass a resolution like this only if it applies to city-owned property. But that doesn’t mean they think it’s a good idea.

“It’s a lot of flash, very little substance,” said Dave Workman with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “I don’t think it’s going to result in one prevented crime and it’s going to inconvenience many people who go to a gun show.”

Workman says it will now take longer and be more expensive to buy a weapon. Workman says a typical background check can cost about $50, and he estimates buyers will have to have guns shipped to them and wait at least 7-10 days.

The owner of Mary’s Pistols in Tacoma feels the new rules aren’t fair.

“What it will hurt are the people who want to put on gun shows. They will shy away from having to do it because it’s more restrictions they have to follow and it’s something that’s not restricted at the state level so why should it be restricted at the city level?” asked Mary Davies.

Some feel criminals will get their hands on weapons elsewhere, but the mayor disagrees.

“I can respect that opinion but the fact is we don’t know where people get illegal guns, so a gun can be purchased at a show and then change hands three to four times after it leaves a show. We really don’t know where a gun comes from, so anything we can do to protect people is good policy,” said Strickland.

Wes Knodel of Oregon is the man who organized the gun show at the Tacoma Dome and plans to host four to five more there before the end of the year. Strickland said he has been cooperative.

Oregon already requires universal background checks at gun shows statewide.





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  • Bill Starks

    The city is hiding behind the court case Northwest Shooting Park Ass'n v. City of Sequim, 158 Wn.2d 342; (2006)

    Sequim acknowledges that municipalities operate in either a governmental capacity or a proprietary capacity. When operating in a proprietary capacity, a municipality retains the general rights of a landlord, in that a municipality may set the conditions of use of the property.

    The City asserts that when licensing the property to be used by a client, the City is operating in a proprietary capacity. Thus, the City can set the conditions of the license, one of which is that the licensee must follow all of the rules and policies of the City.

  • Jim Childers

    This ordinance is in violation of RCW 9.41.290 which states:

    The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components.

    This ordinance is illegal and therefore void on its face.

  • Dave

    I bought a handgun at that show. I had to fill out the background check, wait a few days and then go to the dealer that I purchased it from because that is how it is done. I was surprised at the comments on the news since I bought one. I could not just walk out the door as I do not have a concealed carry, military ID, or police etc..
    I had a great drive 45 minutes north to pick up my new SR22 and had an awesome time at the range on Sunday. Such a great sport.

  • El Gato

    For better or for worse, guns exist. Since guns exist, people have access to them. Some people are good and some are bad. If you prevent the good (law abiding) access to guns, then only the bad who are willing to break the law in the use of the gun will be able to get guns by – breaking the law!
    It is universally accepted that drugs are bad. If laws could deny people anything, why don't we pass laws against drugs? Oh, wait…