A resolution expressing “concern” that gun shows may be conducted within city facilities won supermajority approval, 8-1, at Knoxville City Council Tuesday night. The resolution, a “sense of the council” measure, does not carry the force of law and neither limits nor prohibits gun shows.
Gun control advocates may take comfort in considering the resolution a step in the right direction. But the path from here to a regulatory ordinance bristles with legal land mines expertly placed by the NRA and other Second Amendment protectionists.
That’s a path Mayor Madeline Rogero hasn’t the time to navigate with her term winding down. She acknowledged the city is contractually obligated to allow two gun shows between now and year’s end but said she will not sign new contracts.
Council member Gwen McKenzie represents District 6, home to Chilhowee Park and too frequently the location of gun violence. The park’s Jacob Building often plays host to gun shows. The shows wore out their welcome long ago for McKenzie and other residents of the district’s neighborhoods.
“This resolution is a statement against gun violence,” McKenzie said, “especially in this community where gun violence is prevalent, where having to go to funerals of young people is prevalent. These shows are not welcome in our community.”
Local resident Vivian Shipe reminded council that actions speak louder than resolutions.
“Our young people see what we do, not what we say.”
Samuel Brown asked a question that has become heartbreakingly familiar: “How many more young people must die before government at all levels takes action?”
Mary Wilson said simply, “These gun shows should never be allowed in our neighborhood.”
Words can’t convey the weariness in the eyes of people like Zaevion Dobson’s mother whose only contact with her son is graveside. Dobson attended the meeting in support of the resolution.
Rogero surely understands the frustration and pain in the community but could do nothing other than pass the baton to her successor on this Tuesday night.
Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for KnoxTNToday.