Lawsuit to hang up Del Mar Fairgrounds gun show policy recommendations

A wide open public discussion about how the Del Mar Fairgrounds should handle gun shows in future years will be impossible after recent legal action, a member of the fairgrounds’ board told fellow directors Tuesday, March 12.

Directors of the California 22nd District Agricultural Association, which manages the fairgrounds, voted in September to discontinue hosting gun shows at the end of 2018 while they develop a policy on the practice.

Gun shows have occurred on the fairgrounds for several decades. However, the association has come under escalating pressure from anti-gun violence advocates to ban the shows in the wake of repeated incidents nationally of mass shootings and attacks.

In January, the operator of the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which has run the fairgrounds’ exhibits for more than three decades, filed a federal lawsuit against the district. The suit alleges the association board’s action in discontinuing the shows violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee to free expression.

Association Director Frederick Schenk told fellow board members Tuesday he had intended, along with fellow board Director Lee Haydu, to hold open proceedings including all points of view in leading the effort to devise the new policy.

That “large tent” approach won’t be possible as a result of the legal parameters on public engagement resulting from the lawsuit, Schenk said.

“Throughout this year, Director Haydu and I will continue to do our work,” he said. “But I cannot commit to what we committed to doing, which was having some recommendations to this board before the end of this year.”

A representative of California’s 78th District State Assemblyman Todd Gloria said the legislator has introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the fairgrounds.