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2 years ago, Ada County banned gun shows at Expo Idaho. Now, they’re back.

Expo Idaho hosts final gun show before Ada County liability moratorium

Crowds packed the Idaho gun show, for its last event before Ada County's moratorium went into effect. Gun buyers and dealers expressed their take on the moratorium and also President Barack Obama's recent executive action to regulate guns. Roger M
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Crowds packed the Idaho gun show, for its last event before Ada County's moratorium went into effect. Gun buyers and dealers expressed their take on the moratorium and also President Barack Obama's recent executive action to regulate guns. Roger M

Ada County commissioners on Tuesday adopted new policies to improve public safety at gun shows at Expo Idaho — and lifted a moratorium on gun shows that was imposed over two years ago.

The moratorium was adopted in January 2016, after four people were injured in two accidental gun discharges in 2013 and 2015. Gun shows scheduled for early 2016 were canceled.

Before those dangerous mishaps, Expo Idaho hosted five to seven gun shows per year. The county hasn’t received requests to hold gun shows while the county mulled new policies, county spokeswoman Kate McGwire said.

Ada County Commission Chairman Dave Case said one problem the county discovered after the two accidental shooting incidents was that exhibitors did not have the insurance coverage the county thought they had, according to a recording of Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

The county’s overhaul of its high-risk event policies now includes independent review of every exhibitor’s insurance policy, Case said.

The county adopted the following new safety rules:

▪  All weapons brought into the sales building when Expo Idaho is rented for a gun show will be zip tied or otherwise secured, whether brought in by a member of the public or an exhibitor. The only exception will be uniformed law enforcement officers.

▪  Security will be present at all times and will be provided by the Ada County Sheriff. The cost of security will be borne by the promoter.

▪  There will be uniform and non-discriminatory application of the rules for weapons in the sales building. The rules have not changed elsewhere on the grounds: members of the public, promoters and exhibitors may freely carry elsewhere on the grounds.

In the 2013 accidental discharge, a person attending a gun show had picked up a large-caliber handgun that was part of a vendor’s display. The person unintentionally fired the handgun, not realizing a live round had been left inside.

The single round hit two other guns in the display, causing flying shrapnel to hit two bystanders. A 23-year-old Mountain Home man was struck in the eye. Shrapnel hit a second person in the arm.

Through mediation, Ada County agreed to pay $100,000 as part of a settlement with Holden P. Coladonato, an airman at Mountain Home Air Force Base who was partially blinded in the 2013 incident. The county sued EE-DA-HOW’s insurance carrier to recover that money, a county spokesman said. The other defendants — EE-DA-HOW Long Rifles, Inc., Barton Security Services and Morgan K. Phillips, the owner/vendor of the gun that discharged — also reached settlements.

Expo Idaho raised the liability insurance required by gun shows from $1 million to $5 million after the 2013 shooting.

The 2015 accidental shooting incident occurred before the gun show opened.

Robert C. Turner, a then-74-year-old vendor from Washington, told investigators he was securing a Savage Arms B Mag .17-caliber bolt-action rifle with a plastic zip tie when the weapon discharged.

There was a shell in the rifle, and he mistakenly fired it. The bullet went through a cardboard box, two table covers and a metal cane, then struck the leg of the 51-year-old holding the cane and the leg of a 64-year-old man standing nearby.

Turner was charged with misdemeanor careless handling and discharge of a firearm. The outcome of that case was not immediately available Wednesday because the state’s online court records system, Odyssey, is down.

Want to listen to Ada County Commissioners’ discussion of its new policies and lifting of the gun show moratorium? Click here, then select 2018 Agendas, then April, and finally 04-10-10 Open Business Meeting Audio.

The Brady Act made background checks a requirement for guns purchased through licensed dealers. Here’s a brief look at how the current system works.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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