Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Gun Show Fights Nashville Ban on Fair Events

NASHVILLE (CN) - A gun show promoter claims in court that the Nashville, Tenn., government won't let it have a spot on fairgrounds unless it agrees to restrictions on private-party firearm sales.

The Tennessee Firearms Association and International Gun-A-Rama Inc. dba Bill Goodman's Gun & Knife Show sued the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn., on Tuesday.

The local government runs the Tennessee State Fairgrounds aka Nashville Fairgrounds, where Bill Goodman's has been holding gun shows for more than three decades, according to the lawsuit filed in Davidson County.

Firearms are sold at the guns shows by both federally licensed firearms dealers, or FFLs, and private parties.

"Tennessee FFLs are generally required by law to conduct a background check through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation when selling a firearm to a non-FFL," the complaint states. "A private party who does not hold a federal firearms license is not required by state or federal law to conduct a background check when selling a firearm to another private party."

In November 2015, Nashville's Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners gave Goodman a "draft" proposal that included a ban on private-party sales at the promoter's gun shows, Goodman claims.

The fair board voted in December to terminate Goodman's 2016 contracts "and to end all gun shows at the Nashville Fairgrounds going forward unless Goodman and any other promoter agreed to require further restrictions on the sale of firearms at its gun shows," according to the lawsuit.

Goodman says the fair board has since decided to honor the 2016 contracts, but will not rent the promoter facilities at the fairgrounds "for 2017 and beyond absent agreement to require further restrictions on the sale of firearms at future gun shows."

The Tennessee Firearms Association and Goodman claim that Nashville's fair board "has no legal authority to condition rental of its facilities upon Goodman's willingness to further restrict legal commerce in firearms."

They say state law prevents the local government from "enacting a policy creating a blanket ban of gun shows at the Nashville Fairgrounds."

Dave Goodman, president of Bill Goodman's Gun & Knife Show, said in a statement that he hoped a lawsuit could be avoided, "but the lines of communication have to run both ways, and the fair board has made up its mind."

"We want to stay at the fairgrounds for years to come, and the law-abiding gun owners of Middle Tennessee want us to as well. When the fair board declared last December that that month's gun show would be the last one at the fairgrounds, we did not back down and now all of the scheduled shows for 2016 are going forward as we said they would," Goodman said. "While the fairgrounds is not the only venue in town, we want to be there, our customers want us to be there, and we expect to be there through 2017 and beyond."

Buck Dozier, the listed contact for the fair board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment emailed Wednesday.

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