Shelby County considers banning gun shows at Agricenter

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County commissioners are considering a resolution that would ban gun shows on county-owned property, though the county-owned Agricenter has already decided not to host the events.

Commissioner Tami Sawyer sponsored the resolution, saying Knoxville and Nashville have done this already in light of the proliferation of gun violence.

The county proposal could have an impact on the annual gun show held at the Agricenter. That gun show is scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15. Agricenter officials say they usually host up to seven gun events at the Shelby Farms facility.

Representatives from the Agricenter were not present at Wednesday’s meeting. A committee vote on the resolution was tabled until January so Agricenter representatives could attend.

But when reached later for comment, Agricenter officials said the pressure from county commission is a moot point, because about two months ago they decided gun shows were not in line with their mission of promoting agriculture.

They decided not to renew their contract with the gun show vendor in 2020.

“It just doesn’t fit the model of the nonprofit moving forward,” Agricenter President John Butler said.

The resolution points out thousands of crimes in Shelby County are committed with firearms and states that gun shows “are the antithesis of promoting public safety and community peace and harmony.”

“Especially in light of the high number of homicides we have in this county as well as the high number of accidental deaths with youth who interact with guns. Just moving us toward a county with more gun safety and gun sense,” Commissioner Tami Sawyer said.

Jun Cai, a representative from the Tennessee Firearms Association of Shelby County spoke at the committee meeting, and said his group would oppose the resolution.

Few of the weapons used in violent crimes were sold at gun shows, he said. Gun shows also generate money for the county, and buyers are required to undergo background checks, he said.

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