The Coast News Group
Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast NewsRancho Santa Fe

City adopts resolution to stop gun shows

DEL MAR — With the threat of a lawsuit and arguments from people on both sides of the issue, the Del Mar City Council unanimously adopted a resolution at the Jan. 14 meeting urging the 22nd District Agricultural Association to not renew its contract with Crossroads of the West, which produces several gun shows annually at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and not include the city name in any advertising associated with the events. 

Councilman Don Mosier said he and Councilwoman Lee Haydu co-sponsored the resolution in response to a petition signed by more than 1,100 residents who oppose the shows.

He described it as a “relatively timid” move that offers “two modest improvements.”

Five of the nine speakers at the meeting were residents who support the resolution.

“One component of the very complex problem of gun violence is easy access to guns and the Del Mar gun shows provide that easy access in our community,” resident Tom McGreal said.

“Gun violence is a plague afflicting our country that continues to grow,” said Joel Holliday, whose wife prompted the petition after posting a sign in front of their Del Mar house that read “Stop Del Mar Gun Show and Sale.”

Holliday said the 22nd DAA, which governs the fairgrounds, “encourages the trafficking of more guns and … introduces the fascination with guns to a new cohort of young people.”

“While most of the gun show attendees are fine responsible citizens, some of them are not,” he said. “They may be immature, emotionally unstable, disaffected or prone to violence. And our current laws and enforcement resources are not able to sort out all of these gun buyers.

“This action we’re requesting won’t make an immediate impact on the overarching problem of gun violence in America, but it’s better than doing nothing,” he added. “We can do better than doing nothing.”

The owner of a body armor business and vendor at the gun shows asked council members to reconsider adopting the resolution.

“This affects everybody here in the county,” he said. “This is a heavily regulated industry. … It’s not a wild-west situation. I just really want you guys to think about that before you try and take away something that all of us are counting on as a way to make our living.”

“I just ask that you be consistent. On the same day as the Crossroads of the West gun show there’s a wine-making show,” Solana Beach resident Paul Breed said, providing statistics on the number of people who die annually from alcohol-related issues.

“Just like prohibition didn’t work to stop alcohol deaths, restricting legal access to weapons only drives them underground,” Breed said. “If you’re going to be consistent about wanting to fight evil then kill the wine show.”

The city also received about a half dozen letters and emails, including one from an attorney representing the National Rifle Association, claiming the resolution is potentially violating the First Amendment.

“Your ability to make findings consistent with what you think is the best for Del Mar is what you are allowed to do,” City Attorney Lesley Devaney said. “The resolution that you have before you is doing nothing that overreaches your ability to require that nobody misrepresent information on a sign as it relates to Del Mar.

“It does not preclude… someone to use the name Del Mar because Del Mar’s name is not trademarked. You can’t do that,” she said. “What this resolution does do is say that nobody shall falsely represent that the city of Del Mar is endorsing or otherwise putting on this gun show, which is fair. It’s a defensible action for you to take. So in that regard I don’t believe there’s anything in the First Amendment that this violates.”

“We have lots of gun owners who are very responsible individuals,” Mosier said. “But the idea that these gun shows only supply guns to owners who are responsible … is patently false.

“Let’s show our displeasure with this gun show happening in Del Mar,” he added.

At the request of Mayor Terry Sinnott, a provision that the city does not believe the shows are consistent with the mission of the 22nd DAA will be added to the resolution.