After two months of deliberation and research by the Delaware County Agricultural Society (DCAS) on the proposed gun resolution from Delaware City Council, the board issued their findings and decision at Tuesday’s meeting.
DCAS President Don Howard, reading from a prepared statement, said, “Our executive committee, in consultation with our counsel, extensively reviewed all applicable state and federal laws and found that our fairgrounds comply with all regulations that are required by law. It is our highest priority to continue to follow and uphold the law.”
The prepared statement was approved with a voice vote by all but one board member, P.J. Terry, who abstained from voting.
In April, city council members passed a resolution urging the DCAS to require background checks for all gun sales made during the flea markets held at the fairgrounds. While the resolution was presented as not an infringement on the Second Amendment, but an attempt to keep guns out of the wrong people’s hands, the nature of the resolution would have presented further implications.
For non-Federal Firearm Licensed dealers, conducting a viable background check simply isn’t an option. Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said during the council meeting when the resolution was proposed, “(The resolution) would essentially ask the fair board to say no private sales at organized events.”
A public hearing was held at the first DCAS board meeting following council’s proposed resolution, with residents on both sides of the issue showing up to voice their thoughts and concerns. Howard said of the public conversation, “I was very proud of our community as a whole. Both sides were sincere and passionate, but also courteous to each other. That’s the way it should be in a democracy.”
But Howard elected to send the resolution to an executive committee for further research and discussion before a vote would be made. Howard said the seven-person executive committee, along with their attorney, mainly wanted to look into the way the board currently conducted itself, and the potential legal implications the approval of the resolution may bring.
Howard did acknowledge had there been a way to conduct background checks at the time of the private sales, the executive committee may have reacted differently. However, he also acknowledged expecting those engaged in a firearm sale to coordinate and pay for a background check to be done at a licensed dealer, separate from the sale, was not feasible, nor was there any way to enforce it.
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle told the Gazette she was very disappointed in the fair board, saying, “Every ‘dealer’ of firearms is required to have a license and uphold the background check requirement with every sale. Yet, at the flea market, a person can set up a table week after week, month after month, and sell firearms.”
She concluded, “At what point does this person become a ‘dealer?’”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.