RICH JAMES: Commissioners, not NRA, run Lake County

2013-01-20T00:00:00Z 2013-01-20T00:24:04Z RICH JAMES: Commissioners, not NRA, run Lake CountyRich James Times Columnist
January 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I drove by the Lake County Fairgrounds the other day, and two words on the marquee took me back to that tragic day in Newtown, Conn.

Gun show.

I remember former Lake County Commissioner Rudy Clay vehemently opposing the shows. Clay said he couldn’t justify promoting the sale of guns when people were being shot to death with considerable frequency on the streets of Gary.

But Clay stood alone. Commissioners Gerry Scheub and Frances DuPey rolled out the welcome mat for the gun crowd.

Unfortunately, the gun shows are perfectly legal. That’s where the problem lies.

Because Indiana law governing the sale of weapons is a sham, anyone can buy any type of weapon at the fairgrounds. That includes automatic and assault weapons. It’s legal but wrong.

Here’s the deal with gun sales at the fairgrounds.

If you buy from a dealer who has a federal firearms license, a background check must be conducted on the spot.

The check means the dealer cannot sell a weapon to a convicted felon. Anyone have a problem with that?

But you don't have to be a licensed dealer to sell guns at a show. Nope. Any mope off the street can buy or sell any type of weapon, no questions asked. That’s what is called the “loophole” when it comes to buying and selling weapons in this country.

President Barack Obama wants to close the loophole and ban assault weapons.

But the National Rifle Association is prepared for an all-out fight to keep the status quo. If someone wants to shoot Bambi with an AK-47, that’s OK with the NRA.

In the wake of the Newtown school shooting and others, one would think the NRA would opt for leadership in gun control rather than spewing fear.

Neither the president nor Congress wants to deprive anyone from owning a gun for protection or hunting.

When Roosevelt Allen replaced Clay as commissioner, the gun-show protests stopped.

Allen, who is an NRA member, said the shows are legal. He did, however, say there should be universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles.

Commissioner Mike Repay, who just replaced DuPey, said he once bought a gun at a fairgrounds show.

Repay said it is a federal issue when it comes to future gun laws.

In terms of the shows at the fairgrounds, Repay said, “It is still the law, no matter the restrictions or lack thereof.”

Because Illinois laws governing gun sales are stricter than those in Indiana, it is common knowledge that many of the weapons used in Chicago crimes were bought in Indiana, some of them at the fairgrounds.

Wouldn't it be nice if Lake County took the lead in helping bring sanity to this country and banned gun shows at the fairgrounds, at least until the loophole is closed?

We elected three commissioners to run this county, not the NRA.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at The opinions are the writer's.

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