The outlook for gun shows at the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds is looking bleaker.
The Assembly voted 48-16 Thursday, April 25, to approve Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bill to prohibit sales of guns and ammunition at the venue starting in 2021.
The legislation now moves to the Senate, which is expected to schedule committee hearings in the coming weeks.
It is likely to be well received there because
Gloria, whose Senate district includes the fairgrounds, has said the bill could end up on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk by the fall. Newsom, a Democrat, was critical of sales of guns and ammunition on state-owned properties during his tenure as lieutenant governor.
“Today marks a major step forward for this bill and a major step toward making our communities safer by reducing the number of guns in our neighborhoods,” Gloria said in a statement Thursday morning, April 25.
“The communities around the Del Mar Fairgrounds have been clear: they do not want these gun shows taking place on this state-owned land. With this bill, we are demonstrating that we value people over guns and are putting public safety first.”
The bill’s passage represents a win for advocates in the effort to permanently end the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which traditionally has occurred five times a year in Del Mar for about 30 years and drawn thousands of attendees to each event.
For most of its history, the Crossroads’ gun show received little scrutiny from the public board that runs the fairgrounds, the 22nd District Agricultural Association. That abruptly changed last year after 17 people died in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Since then, gun shows like Crossroads have become a focal point for gun safety advocates and protesters, who frequently show up at association board meetings and outside the gun show.
Amid mounting pressure the board elected to reevaluate and ultimately halt the gun show after Dec. 31, 2018, while staff developed a policy that would ban the sale and possession of firearms on the property outright.
Gun rights advocates, gun owners and the gun show company were not conceding the fight, though. In late January, the family-owned company that operates Crossroads, Utah-based B&L Productions, filed a federal lawsuit against Del Mar Fairgrounds challenging the suspension.
Their legal case argues that suspending the show violates First and Second Amendment rights, civil rights, the right to commercial speech, and the right of assembly.
A month later Gloria introduced his proposed legislation to the state. It came on the heels of a similar bill introduced by two San Francisco assembly members that would ban gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Last week the board of the Cow Palace moved on its own to ban gun shows at the venue.
Tracy Olcott, president and general manager of B&L Productions, could not be reached for comment Thursday, April 25. In an interview in February Olcott said it was “disappointing for a company like us, that we would be targeted on something that really isn’t a problem associated with the gun shows.”
She added that for more than 40 years her family’s company has supported the legal possession of firearms and its shows, which also occur in cities throughout Arizona, Nevada and Utah, are heavily regulated and closely monitored by law enforcement.
“We at Crossroads … are opposed to gun violence, but we also want to do everything we can to fight for legal and lawful firearm-bearers in the state of California and elsewhere,” she said.
Gloria’s bill has drawn the ire of the
--Charles T. Clark is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune