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Gloria bill that would end gun show at Del Mar Fairgrounds advances past first committee

As the battle over the gun show at the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds rages on, advocates for preserving the show suffered their first loss in the state assembly.

On Tuesday, March 26, Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s bill that would prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition at the fairgrounds passed out of the Public Safety Committee, its first test in the Assembly. The bill will next head to the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.

Gloria has previously said the bill, if approved, could make it to the governor’s desk by the fall.

“This is an important step for the safety of our communities, especially those around the Fairgrounds who have made clear they do not want these gun shows on this public property,” Gloria said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

“Gun violence is plaguing our nation – and there is an undeniable link between the gun violence we see and the number of guns in our communities. AB 893 will reduce the number of guns in our communities and put public safety first.”

This first bout in the the Assembly is just the latest in what has been more than a year-long fight surrounding the Crossroads of the West gun show.

For about 30 years the Crossroads’ gun show, which traditionally occurred five times a year and drew thousands of attendees, garnered little scrutiny from the public board that runs the fairgrounds, the 22nd District Agricultural Association.

But last year, after 17 people died in a mass shooting at a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., gun shows like Crossroads became a focal point for gun safety advocates and protesters, who became a constant presence in board meetings.

Mounting pressure and scrutiny then led the board to reevaluate and ultimately halt the gun show after Dec. 31, 2018, while staff developed a policy that could ban the sale and possession of firearms on the property.

Earlier this year the dispute took another turn when the family-owned company that operates Crossroads filed a federal lawsuit against Del Mar Fairgrounds challenging the suspension, a challenge that is ongoing. 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 legislation to the state. His proposal came on the heels of a similar bill introduced by two San Francisco assembly members that would ban gun and ammunition sales at San Francisco’s Cow Palace.

That bill will go before the Senate Governance and Finance committee on Wednesday, March 27.

During an interview last month Tracy Olcott, president and general manager of the Utah-based company B&L Productions, which owns Crossroads, 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 legal possession of firearms, and its shows 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.

— Charles Clark is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune

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