Bill that would end gun shows at Del Mar Fairgrounds advances to governor’s desk

A bill that would end gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds has advanced to the governor’s desk after months of advocacy from Assemblyman Todd Gloria, pictured here speaking at a picnic and community fair hosted by the Wear Orange coalition last year.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bill to prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds beginning in 2021 received final legislative approval Wednesday, Sept. 11, and is headed to the governor’s desk.

Governor Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the legislation.

“This bill is about offering more than thoughts and prayers,” said Gloria, D-San Diego. “It’s about policy and action and listening to the communities around the Fairgrounds who no longer want these events taking place. In California, we value people over guns and this bill makes that clear.”

If Newsom signs the bill, which is co-authored by Encinitas Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner-Horvath, the decision would provide a big win for gun safety advocates who have fought for more than a year to end the shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

For most of its 30-year history, the Crossroads of the West gun shows occurred several times a year in Del Mar, drawing thousands of attendees and minimal public scrutiny.

However, after a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school killed 17 people in 2018, the gun shows drew ire from gun safety advocates who protested outside the events and became a constant presence in meetings of the agricultural board that oversees the fairgrounds.

That pressure ultimately led the agricultural board to vote to halt the gun show after Dec. 31, 2018, while staff worked out a way to permanently ban the sale and possession of firearms on the property.

The family-owned company that operates Crossroads filed a federal lawsuit against Del Mar Fairgrounds shortly afterward, saying the suspension violated their First and Second Amendment rights, civil rights, the right to commercial speech, and the right of assembly.

As the challenge plays out in federal court, a San Diego federal judge issued a temporary injunction in June, ordering the fair board to lift the ban until the lawsuit is settled.

There are currently two Crossroad gun shows scheduled for the venue, one Sept. 28-29 and one in December.

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