Organizers of gun shows, auctions, flea markets and other events will have to comply with stricter regulations if they want to sell firearms at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
County commissioners Wednesday evening unanimously agreed to new regulations that will require anyone wanting to sell a gun at the fairgrounds to have a federal firearms license. Commissioners approved the new requirements over the objections of a local gun show promoter who said they will unfairly hurt his business.
Commissioners agreed to make the changes because under current regulations unlicensed gun dealers who are not required to run a federal background check on gun buyers are allowed to sell at the fairgrounds as part of an event. All federally licensed gun dealers must run a background check.
"I know that most people who buy guns are responsible, but I also know that the fairgrounds is the place people will go if they need to buy a gun without a background check," Commissioner Charles Jones said. "I think we should decide to set a different image than that."
Steve Vogelsang, a partner in a gun show business that has two shows a year at the fairgrounds, told commissioners the regulations wouldn't stop people from buying guns without a background check.
"It is just as simple for an individual to go to the newspaper and buy a gun out of the classifieds," Vogelsang said. "There is nothing illegal about that."
Although most of his shows' vendors are federally licensed, Vogelsang said the regulations could hurt his business because he estimates that 30 to 40 percent of customers at the show bring guns with them to either trade or sell with other customers. Under the new regulations, that practice would be prohibited and punishable by a $250 fine.
"If this goes into effect, a great many people who would come to the show to trade a gun would not come, and that would hurt attendance quite a bit," Vogelsang said. "It is a distinct possibility that it would shut the show down."
Commissioners, though, said the fact that there are a significant number of people trading or selling guns without the background checks only strengthens the need for the regulations. Several members of the public agreed.
"To me it seems like common sense," Ben Sutherland, a KU student, told commissioners. "There's no perfect world here, but that doesn't mean we have to make it easy for people."
Originally, the changes were only meant to impact gun shows, but commissioners said to be fair, the regulations also should apply to auctions, flea markets and other events that may sell guns.