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Gun show return to Del Mar Fairgrounds continues fiery debate

Posted: 9:50 AM, Dec 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-14 12:56:41-05
Debate over Del Mar gun show takes center stage

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) — While a hotly-debated gun show is returning to the Del Mar Fairground, its future remains clouded after a recently signed law.

The Crossroads of the West gun show returned to the fairgrounds Saturday, two months after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill banning the sale of guns and ammo at the venue. That law doesn't take effect until 2021, allowing the gun show to continue until then.

"It's been a mainstay for 30 years in San Diego and a small group of extremists tried to get it canceled and were successful for just a few months last year, but fortunately the courts stepped in and said, 'no you can't discriminate against a group based on what they described as their culture," Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners, told reporters Saturday. "The fight's not over."

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That fight will continue in a year. Assembly Bill 893, introduced in February by State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-78), argues California shouldn't have a role in facilitating gun sales. Gov. Newsome signed the bill last October.

"People have the right to continue to buy guns at private establishments," Gloria said shortly after the bill's signing. "The state just shouldn't have a role in facilitating the flow of guns into neighborhoods where children are killed."

Protesters are expected outside of the show Saturday to counter gun advocates.

"They are coming back to finish off our families by calling their gun shows ‘family friendly,’" Rose Ann Sharp, founder of NeverAgainCA, said. "It gives a perverse new meaning to 'women and children first.' For seven years the NRA has blocked any national laws to protect all citizens from gun violence."

RELATED: Del Mar gun shows can continue for now, U.S. district court judge rules

Advocates for the show say the event is meant to promote gun safety and curb violence.

"Gun shows are not the place where gun violence is created," Crossroads President Tracy Olcott says. "We're the ones who are educating about gun safety and I think when you have an environment where you can talk about it and educate people, I think that's an important part of curbing gun violence."

In September 2018, the Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors voted to suspend the Crossroads of the West show until the state developed new safety policies for gun shows. Crossroads appealed the suspension and was granted the right to return in June 2019.

The show's contract runs through 2020.

Schwartz admits they don't know what will happen to the show after the next year, but they're hopeful the court system will rule in their favor once again.

"We believe there is going to be some kind of court decision and there is the possibility that it will be delayed and have to move its way up through the court system," Schwartz said. "But we're very confident that the court's going to see that this type of discrimination against this group of people — that they simply consider undesirable — is not right.

"The fairgrounds is a state-owned, regional asset and just because one city decides they don't like a culture, that doesn't mean that they can kick them out of town ... Del Mar doesn't get to dictate who they like and who they dislike."