On Wednesday we broke the story of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s threat to sue the city of Austin and Travis County, of which Austin is the largest city. Both jurisdictions are pondering banning gun shows at city- and county-owned venues. At least two venues and shows would be impacted, the Saxet Trade Shows that exhibit twice a month at the Travis County Expo Center and Premiere Gun Shows. They exhibit at the North Austin Event Center. I’ve attended both. They tend to attract large crowds of customers to trade with the exhibitors, who sell everything from antique guns and swords to clothing, framed artwork and turkey jerky. These shows generate economic activity in the areas around the venues and in the venues themselves, and help sellers from around the region find congregated and ready buyers.
The city and county have leases with the companies that operate the shows, and are considering passing measures that would have the effect of canceling those leases. Texas AG Abbott took to his social networks to threaten a “double-barreled lawsuit” if they pass them. This earned him blowback in the media.
But Abbott says that not only does his threat stand, he points out that such measures have already been dealt with in the state legislature and in the courts. In short, he is confident of victory.
Abbott’s answer — there’s nothing cities and counties can do on a local level without facing a lawsuit.
“The county and cities can prohibit illegal conduct on their premises. They cannot, however, choose to allow in or exclude people based upon their philosophical belief. The Second Amendment is not a philosophical belief; it is a constitutional guarantee,” Abbott said.
And it’s a guarantee he said he will fight for, similar to the fight that happened with Houston.
“The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, federal court, was very clear. The City of Houston violated that Texas law because it tried to impose restrictions on gun shows in the City of Houston on city property. State law could not be more clear. The courts could not be more clear. We expect Travis County and the City of Austin to follow the law,” Abbott said.