Gun show protesters gather at Del Mar Fairgrounds

Supporters of NeverAgainCA gathered outside the Del Mar Fairgrounds Sept. 28.
(Luke Harold)

With signs reading “Not One More,” “No Gun Shows in Del Mar” and “Ban Assault Weapons,” NeverAgainCA supporters protested the Crossroads of the West gun show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Sept. 28.

“I feel really strongly that we don’t want to have gun shows in our community,” said Carol Mason, a Del Mar resident and retired teacher, one of more than 100 people who gathered at the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and Via de la Valle.

The 22nd Agricultural District Board of Directors, which oversees the fairgrounds, voted last year to suspend the gun shows. Crossroads of the West events are also held in Arizona, Nevada and Utah. But B&L Productions, the company that operates the Crossroads of the West gun shows, filed a federal lawsuit and received a preliminary injunction that will allow them to continue. Pending state legislation could help resolve the dispute, or exacerbate the legal battle.

AB 893, by San Diego mayoral candidate and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, would suspend gun and ammo sales at the fairgrounds. Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, and Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, coauthored the legislation. The bill passed the Assembly and Senate largely along party lines, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto it.

Recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and at the Gilroy Garlic Festival have renewed calls by gun violence prevention advocates for stricter regulations. U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, who joined the protest, said he wasn’t sure if the newly launched impeachment inquiry affects the politics of passing laws designed to curb gun violence.

“What’s important is that we do what’s right,” Levin said.

Since Democrats reclaimed the House majority after the 2018 midterm elections, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to consider their legislation.

“I’m hoping Republicans will listen to their hearts and their consciences and not their reelection coffers,” said Blaze Newman, a retired teacher and Encinitas resident who joined the protest.

NeverAgainCA foudner Rose Ann Sharp said she was motivated by her 8-year-old grandchild and the local students who fear another school shooting.

“They say to us, ‘Why can’t you protect us?’” she said. “That’s really hard to take.”

Crossroads of the West President Tracy Olcott said via email that “just as we feel it is our First Amendment right to gather and discuss firearms issues and to engage in legal, lawful business, we feel that those who chose to protest should be allowed the same right to gather and speak their minds.”

“While we may never agree on gun rights issues, I am certain that we all wish to find a solution to gun violence,” Olcott said. “There is no proven link to gun shows and gun violence so we will continue to hold our gun shows as we have done for more than 40 years and counting.”