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Proposed legislation would ban gun shows at all state fairgrounds

People from NeverAgainCA protest outside the Crossroads of the West gun show at Del Mar in 2018.
People from NeverAgainCA protest outside the Crossroads of the West gun show at Del Mar fairgrounds in 2018.
(Howard Lipin)

Law would build on prohibitions already in place at Del Mar and Orange County fairgrounds

Three state lawmakers announced proposed legislation Thursday, Feb. 3, that would prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition on all state property, effectively ending gun shows on state fairgrounds.

The laws would build on legislation passed in 2019 that prohibits gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and in 2021 at the Orange County Fair and Event Center. Both venues had hosted the Crossroads of the West sales several times a year for decades.

Senate Bill 915, introduced by Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, would extend the prohibition to all 73 California state fairgrounds.

“Our work to end this scourge of gun violence is far from over,” Min said in an online news conference Thursday, Feb. 3. “The state of California should not be profiting off the sale of guns. This is blood money.”

Nothing in the state constitution says that public property must allow firearms sales, he said, and lawsuits to challenge the prohibition of sales so far have failed.

Gun shows are “a common venue for straw purchases” of weapons that later end up in the wrong hands, he said.

Ghost guns, the term for untraceable partially assembled weapons sold as kits, are a big seller at gun shows, he said. The ready-to-assemble kits have become one of the biggest sellers at the events.

“Gun shows are designed for one purpose — to sell and distribute guns in our community,” Min said, and every time a gun is sold, it increases the chances of another act of violence.

Del Mar resident Rose Ann Sharp, founder of the gun violence prevention group NeverAgainCA, participated in the news conference in support of the legislation. She pointed to the case of a 14-year-old boy fatally shot Monday, Jan. 31, in the San Diego community of Mount Hope. A fifth teen suspect in the crime was arrested Tuesday, Feb. 1.

“None of them could legally own a gun,” Sharp said of the suspects. “Our state government does not belong in the business of adding to the proliferation of guns and making a profit from guns sold on state property.”

Michael Schwartz, executive director of the political action group San Diego County Gun Owners, has been a leading opponent of efforts to stop firearms shows and ghost gun sales.

“It’s important to note that this proposed law has nothing to do with ghost guns because unserialized firearms are already banned throughout the state,” Schwartz said Thursday, Feb. 3. “This action is just harassment of law-abiding hobbyists who want to legally home-manufacture their own firearms.”

San Diego County Gun Owners filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego in January over an ordinance the city passed last year to prohibit the sale of the parts used to make ghost guns, saying it interferes with “the core right to possess a firearm for self-defense.”

In an April 6, 2021, editorial in the Union-Tribune, Schwartz wrote that gun control laws are a form of “institutional racism.”

“Terms like ‘keeping guns off the street’ and ‘keeping guns out of the wrong hands’ are merely dog whistles for policies that target and destroy the lives of people of color, especially young, Black men,” Schwartz said. “As a result, families and communities are being irreparably destroyed.”

Min’s bill is complemented by Assembly Bill 1769 introduced by Assemblymember Steve Bennett, D-Ventura, and state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Goleta, which would ban gun shows at the Ventura County fairgrounds.

“The United States experiences far more gun violence per person than virtually every other modern industrialized country in the world,” Bennett said. “What accounts for this? The United States has one of the most pervasive gun cultures in the world supported by a powerful gun lobby.”

If approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Newsom, the bills could take effect Jan. 1, 2023.


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