FORT WORTH - Gun shows are practically a Texas tradition. But now the issue of weapons sold at those shows has become a high caliber controversy in a Tarrant County state senate race.
Since the early 1970s, the City of Fort Worth has leased facilities like the Will Rogers Memorial Center for gun shows. While serving on the city council in 2000, Wendy Davis proposed limiting who could sell guns at these shows.
That controversy is now following her into the state Senate race.
"She has a proven record of attempting to pass what we consider to be bad regulations," said James Dark, executive director of the Texas State Rifle Association.
Davis says she wanted only licensed gun dealers at shows on city property since federal law requires they must do background checks on buyers.
Shows that wouldn't agree to that stipulation would have been banned under the proposal. Private gun owners and hunters who aren't dealers wouldn't have been able to sell.
"I will always defend the right for honest citizens to own, purchase, sell guns," Davis said, "but I will also fight to assure that they are kept out of the hands of criminals."
Because of her city council stand, the TSRA is endorsing Davis' opponent, incumbent Republican Kim Brimer. Brimer said he supports the "purchase of guns at gun shows."
His campaign added that if Davis had her way, gun shows would have been banned.
The TSRA's Dark said more gun show regulation isn't needed. "Criminals get firearms from other criminals or they steal them from law-abiding citizens," he said.
Fort Worth police reported no problems at the gun shows, although then-police chief Ralph Mendoza expressed some concern that not all buyers were checked. "It's the ability to bypass any checks at all," he said at the time.
Mendoza, now retired, declined further comment.
In the end, the Fort Worth City Council tabled the proposed gun show restriction.
Davis - who says she owns a gun - claims she just doesn't want the wrong people to have one.
"I absolutely defend the Second Amendment right to gun ownership," Davis said.