Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium, inside Holiday Park, has been hosting gun shows seven times a year for the last 30 years. On Tuesday, the City Commission announced at a conference meeting that it’s looking to end those shows later this year.
Charlie King lives in the city’s Victoria Park neighborhood and frequently speaks in front of the commission. He told commissioners at the meeting that he doesn’t like the gun show location.
“I have to bring my kids when we go to soccer games on Saturday mornings. This is eight weekends a year we have to drive through this, this whole thing to get to the soccer fields and to the flag football fields,” King said.
Florida Gun Shows is the company that operates the events. It maintains there are only seven shows a year in the auditorium, but citizens argue the company uses the venue eight weekends a year. Florida Gun Shows' lease with the city expires this November.
The gun shows’ owner Khaled Akkawi and Mayor Dean Trantalis discussed finding another venue.
“If I can find a venue that has the size, the parking and is economically feasible for us to move the show to - and they will give me a good term lease - then that’s a possibility,” Akkawi said.
Cities in Florida can’t regulate gun sales because of a preemption law. However, because Fort Lauderdale owns War Memorial Auditorium, it can make an argument for choosing not to renew the lease with Florida Gun Shows.
“You’ve got six months. That’s a lot of time to look,” Trantalis responded to Akkawi.
The entire commission went on to suggest the shows move farther from parks, to somewhere like the Broward County Convention Center.
The commission did not take a formal vote at the meeting. Five gun shows are left at the auditorium between now and November, when the lease ends.
This story was updated to correct the spelling of Khaled Akkawi's name. It was misspelled "Khalid." It was also updated to explain the discrepancy between how many times a year Florida Gun Shows hosts the shows, and how many weekends out of the year some citizens claim they are disrupted by shows.