The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal that would have allowed gun shows to continue at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex in Franklin.
The Board voted 13-3 against the proposal during Thursday's board meeting.
Currently, a county ordinance prohibits the carrying of firearms and other dangerous weapons in county buildings. Thursday's proposal called for an exemption in that ordinance for firearms to be allowed only in Milwaukee County Sports Complex during an event dedicated to the display and sale of firearms.
The Milwaukee County Sports Complex was home to a biannual gun show hosted by the Wisconsin-based Take a Kid Hunting Foundation, according to the proposal.
The county's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture advised in 2020 that the gun show should no longer be held at the complex because it violated the county ordinance. That decision sparked the proposal supervisors debated on Thursday.
The sponsors of Thursday's resolution, Supervisors Patti Logsdon, Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, and John Weishan Jr., argue in the proposal that the gun show has provided "knowledge and opportunities" for the community to learn more about hunting. They cite a 2019 report from the state Department of Natural Resources suggesting the gun show is an important part of deer harvesting in the Southern Farmland Zone. That zone recorded the second-highest number of deer registrations in all four of the state's zones, according to the proposal.
The ordinance preventing firearms in county buildings was put in place in 2012. The gun show was held at the sports complex during this time.
Debate ahead of Thursday's vote was especially heated, in part because it comes days after mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta, and the workplace shooting in Oconomowoc.
Supervisor Felesia Martin, who voted in favor of the proposal to change the ordinance, wrote in a statement:
“This gun show had been held at the Sports Complex for several years since the 2012 resolution banning guns from County facilities. We must ask a few questions. If the gun show was permitted since 2012, what makes this year different? Was there a sunset date for permitting the gun show? Were any laws violated in past years? How do we define a ‘private seller’?
Supervisors Ryan Clancy, Joseph Czarnezki, and Liz Sumner, who voted against the proposal, wrote in a statement:
“We are just three days removed from yet another mass shooting in Colorado and have barely caught our breath from the horrific mass shooting in Atlanta. We are relieved by the County Board’s decision to reject this proposal.
“The gun show loophole ensures that people can purchase and receive weapons on the same day, as opposed to having to complete a common-sense background check which 89% of Americans approve of. Milwaukee County should have no part in facilitating gun sales, especially when state law prohibits us from mandating background checks or other common-sense measures at gun shows on our grounds."