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Two injured at Expo Idaho gun show after rifle discharges

The 72,000-square-foot Expo building has three sections (north, center and south). On Saturday, there was a gem show in the south section, a gun show in the center and a flea market in the north section.
The 72,000-square-foot Expo building has three sections (north, center and south). On Saturday, there was a gem show in the south section, a gun show in the center and a flea market in the north section.

For the second time in three years, an accidental gun discharge has injured someone at a gun show at Expo Idaho in Garden City.

The accidental shooting occurred at about 8:20 a.m. Saturday during the Lewis Clark Trader Gun Show. It happened in the center bay of the Expo building — before the gun show started, Expo Idaho Director Bob Batista said.

A 74-year-old gun 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, an Ada County Sheriff’s Office official said.

There was a shell in the rifle, and he mistakenly fired it, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr. 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.

The victims were taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center for treatment. The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

The gun show opened at 9 a.m. Saturday and went on as planned, Batista said.

Orr said the vendor who accidentally discharged the gun fully cooperated with the investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and the vendor hasn’t been cited.

Batista said Expo Idaho requires gun-show vendors to remove bolts or secure weapons’ triggers before a show starts. He said they prefer that be done off-site, but it isn’t prohibited to take those safety measures at Expo Idaho before the shows open.

“Once you’re in the building, the gun should be getting tied, or [already] tied,” Batista said. “It’s the promoter’s responsibility to go around and check them.”

A Lewis Clark Trader representative could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Batista estimated the show had 1,000-plus guns set up at about 100 tables. There are five to seven gun shows held at Expo Idaho each year. Another promoter, EE-DA-HOW Long Rifles Inc., of Idaho, no longer does gun shows after an accidental shooting at the in 2013.

A person attending the 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.

“[That] gun show put us out of business,” said Arnold Burr of EE-DA-HOW. “It cost us over $25,000. They said we had to come with a $5 million aggregate policy [at the next gun show]. Nobody would insure us. That put us out of business.”

Batista said Expo Idaho raised the liability insurance required by gun shows from $1 million to $5 million after the 2013 shooting. He said they also added security personnel.

“We’re all anxious to figure out how we’re going to go forward and ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Batista said. “We’re going to do our best to try and figure out safer ways to do everything.”

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