Greensboro City Council discussing canceling annual gun show

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro City Councilor Tammi Thurm says Mayor Nancy Vaughan called her about canceling the annual gun and knife show at the coliseum after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

"We have to make a statement as a city," Thurm said, agreeing with Vaughan's idea. "She felt that something needed to be done."

Thurm pointed out the recent security issues at the show, after several guns were stolen last year. She expects the issue to be up for debate at the next city council meeting in a couple of weeks and a public discussion.

"The public should have the opportunity to weigh in on any issue," Thurm said.

Talking to several gun shop owners around Greensboro who have been vendors at the show in past years, they believe the show's benefit to their business is the exposure and don't like the idea of possibly losing that.

"I've gotten quite a bit of support of the idea and quite a bit in opposition of the idea," Thurm said. "I think there's a strong sentiment on both sides."

But gun rights advocates don't only think this is a bad idea, they say it's against the law.

Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone points to N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-409.40, which states "no county or municipality, by ordinance, resolution, or other enactment, shall regulate in any manner the possession, . . . storage, transfer, sale, purchase, . . . transportation, or registration of firearms, firearms ammunition, [or] components of firearms."

In a statement provided to FOX8, Valone said "The proposal by the Greensboro City Council is a regulation of the sale and purchase of firearms and components by enactment of a municipality. As such, it is a direct and facial violation of North Carolina law. As a party adversely affected by this action, Grass Roots North Carolina has standing to challenge – and will vigorously do so – this illegal exercise of power by the City of Greensboro, and will pursue costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in bringing such action, as provided by law."

"What we can do is decide if we want to facilitate the sale as a city, by hosting it on city-owned property," Thurm said, believing there is strong enough support in city council to pass the idea.

On top of the cost of a lawsuit over the idea, the city would also have to pay a cancellation fee if they wanted to move forward with the idea. The Greensboro Coliseum is actively working on getting that exact figure to FOX8.

"The cancellation will be subject to a public hearing. (Though, according to our city attorney it is not legally necessary) This will in NO way impact gun shops or sporting goods stores doing business within the City of Greensboro -- only the city owned Coliseum," Vaughan wrote on Facebook.

There is also a gun show at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds happening in May this year. FOX8 reached out to Mayor Allen Joines' office to see if a similar conversation is taking place, but has not heard back.