East County News Service; Times of San Diego contributed to this report
Photo: Michael A. Schwartz of Santee, executive director of San Diego Gun Owners applauds judge’ decision
June 20, 2019 (San Diego) – U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo recently issued a preliminary injunction in favor of B&L Productions, Inc., operators of the popular Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which has annually drawn hundreds of thousands of people from all parts of San Diego County for decades to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Gun control activist groups like Never Again California, a group of Del Mar residents and the cities of Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach called for an end to gun shows at the fairgrounds last year in response to mass shootings and increaed gun violence around the country. The original lawsuit, filed Jan. 21, came four months after the fairgrounds board voted 8-1 to halt any contracts for gun shows beyond Dec. 31, 2018. Gun show opponents argue that the event should not be allowed on public property because gun shows glorify gun culture.
But on June 18, the court ruling said B&L would be “likely to suffer irreparable harm,” following last year’s gun show ban by the 22nd District Agricultural Association, operators of the fairgrounds. The injunction also said a lawsuit against the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors is likely to succeed. The injunction stated: “The District is enjoined from enforcing the policy is adopted on Sept. 11, 2018, pursuant to which it refused to allow any gun show events to be held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds during the 2019 calendar year. The District must make available the next available date for a gun show and allow B&L to reserve dates for gun show events (and to hold such events) at the Fairgrounds as the District would any other show promoters who have previously held events at the Fairgrounds.”
The court decision also included deadlines for future court dates, including Aug. 16 for discovery and Aug. 29 for summary judgment motions, along with a hearing on motions for summary judgment on Sept. 26.
The Santee-based San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a countywide political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, is applauding the federal court ruling. “The injunction shows that the judge agrees there is a valid and important case to be made on behalf of California gun owners,” said Michael Schwartz, Santee resident and SDCGO executive director. “For over 30 years San Diego has enjoyed a professional, educational, legal, and responsible gun show at a publicly owned venue. It is unconscionable that a very few people would use the force of government to discriminate against fellow San Diegans simply because they dislike them for exercising their rights. Although the decision is not final, gun owners are happy with the judge’s decision to stop bans on gun shows while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts,” Schwartz added. “There is nothing reasonable about a total ban.”
The two-day gun show has been held at the publicly owned fairgrounds five times a year for the past 30 years. Last year, an investigation by SDCGO revealed the nine-member fairgrounds board has a bias against gun ownership based on past political contributions to anti-Second Amendment candidates and initiatives, according to the SDCGO.
Photo, right: Assemblyman Todd Gloria voices disappointment, urges Fair Board to appeal ruling and says he will continue seeking legislative ban
“We’re thankful Judge Bencivengo sees the Constitutional problem with banning these safe, perfectly-legal events and is allowing the show to go on while we continue to fight,” said Tiffany Cheuvront, civil rights attorney for the Crossroads of the West show. “We're confident that as this case progresses, law-abiding Americans’ civil rights will not be unjustly violated and that we will prevail. Cheuvront added, “These well-funded anti-gun groups are using every myth in the book to push their anti-gun agenda on a legal, safe, and family-friendly event that has been held for years because they simply don't like guns. This is a huge first victory for those involved in the case including CRPA, Second Amendment Foundation, South Bay Rod and Gun Club and all of the individual plaintiffs.”
Cheuvront states, “The reality is that less than 10 percent of the activity at a gun show involves firearms or ammunition. The shows are a modern bazaar, with a wide assortment of food, interesting merchandise, and services available. Only the Del Mar Fairgrounds is large enough to accommodate the show and there are no other suitable public or private venues in the area.”
Some state officials came out against hosting gun shows at the fairgrounds and state-owned land in general, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly members Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas.
In February, Gloria and Boerner Horvath introduced Assembly Bill 893, which would ban the sale of guns and ammunition at the fairgrounds wholesale beginning in 2021. The Assembly approved the bill by a 48-16 vote in April and it’s now being vetted in the state Senate. However, the court’s eventual ruling on CRPA’s case may put the bill’s future in jeopardy.
“While the ruling is disappointing, AB 893 will continue to move forward,” Assemblyman Gloria said in a statement, Times of San Diego reports. “This injunction ignores the will of residents in the communities around the Del Mar Fairgrounds who have stated unequivocally that they do not want guns or ammunition sold on this public, state-owned property.”
He said lawmakers would continue to persist with legislation to prohibit gun and ammunition sales on the fairgrounds, adding, “I hope the Del Mar Fair Board chooses to appeal this misguided decision.”
AB 893 would prohibit the sales of guns and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds starting January 1, 2021. The bill has passed the State Assembly and received approval of the State Senate Public Safety Committee last week.