McMinnville officials have shot down a request from Great American Gun & Knife Shows to hold a show at McMinnville Civic Center in March.
In January, Parks and Recreation Committee members Rick Barnes, Ben Newman and Billy Wood gave the business a tentative “yes” pending legal approval.
At that time, two concerns were raised: 1) the proximity of West Elementary to the Civic Center, and 2) the Civic Center being considered part of a park complex and state law prohibiting firearms within parks.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is the federal agency charged with enforcement of firearm laws, pulled the trigger and shot down the idea, said city attorney Tim Pirtle during Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
“There seems to be no exception to the school proximity rule as it relates to gun shows,” said Pirtle. “Therefore, I think the plain language from the attorney at that federal agency would preclude the use of the Civic Center for a gun show.”
State law requires all guns within 1,000 feet of a school to be in locked containers. Alderman Mike Neal says that is only one of many rules that would hinder the event.
“It wouldn’t be impossible to hold the show,” said Neal. “However, there would be so many rules that would go along with it, such as having to use locked containers, it just won’t be feasible.”
Newman added, “I read through the information. To have any firearms there each one would have to be individually locked. When going to gun shows, people want to be able to open the slide and look, but you can’t actually do that with them being locked.”
McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord says he has already told the gun show promoters the event probably would not take place.
“He seemed to understand,” said McCord. “He did mention that four of his shows are adjacent to schools and he even shares a parking lot with one school. He said he talked to the TBI and they can do a site visit to decide if they can host a gun show.”
Newman asked which authority the city would have to go by if the opinion of the state agency differs from that of the federal agency. Federal trumps state, says Pirtle.