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Board Votes To Put Gun Shows On Hold At Del Mar Fairgrounds Next Year

Crowds at the Del Mar Fairgrounds are awaiting a decision by the Board of Directors of the 22nd Agricultural District on what to do about gun shows at the venue, Tuesday, September 11, 2018.
Matt Hoffman
Crowds at the Del Mar Fairgrounds are awaiting a decision by the Board of Directors of the 22nd Agricultural District on what to do about gun shows at the venue, Tuesday, September 11, 2018.
Board Votes To Put Gun Shows On Hold At Del Mar Fairgrounds Next Year
Board Votes To Put Gun Shows On Hold At Del Mar Fairgrounds Next Year GUEST: Matt Hoffman, reporter, KPBS News

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. The decision to suspend gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds next year is not being taken lightly by San Diego gun owners. Crossroads of the West. The group that's put on gun shows at the fairgrounds for nearly 30 years has vowed to fight the decision. After a public hearing yesterday the Del Mar Fairgrounds board voted to suspend the regular gun shows next year exploring the option of holding educational gun shows. Instead PBS reporter Matt Hoffman attended yesterday's meeting. He joins us once again. Matt welcome. Hey Mark. Good to be here. How did the board actually vote yesterday. Yes so the board actually voted 8 to 1 in favor of adopting a recommendation from one of their committees to postpone gun shows. While they look at this point the feasibility of hosting them in a different way and that was after about four hours of public comment and them discussing back and forth. So what are the educational gun shows that they're exploring now. Right. Yeah these educational gun shows so first I think it's worth noting that there are still two more gun shows that are happening this year and 2018 one in September and one in December. What this action also decided directed staff to do was to postpone gun shows for 2019. And in the meantime look to see if they can have educational gun shows that promote safety. Now that what that would also mean is they don't want any guns at the fairgrounds. Now also includes ammunition so people against this are saying well how can you have a gun show that promotes safety and education without actually having guns there. Now during the discussion what did the board members say about why they decided to vote the way they did. Right. You know during the discussion each board member right at the end they kind of like said why they were going to vote the way that they did kind of trying to defend their position. And they all kind of said that they wanted to find a compromise in this. From their perspectives was the best compromise that they could get to still somehow allowing some sort of gun show. And I think it's worth noting too that none of this is set in stone yet staff is going to go back to see if this is even possible. The Seife crossroads of the West is even interested in doing something like this. They might not even want to have the gun shows if they can't sell guns if they can't have guns at the fairgrounds. So really right now there's a lot of questions and we'll see if these educational gun shows are possible as the as the board members were explaining I think board president Steven Schumacher made a comment about how surprised he was when he actually went to a gun show and saw what was there. What I heard when he got on the board was that you know the Crossroads has been with us for 30 some odd years. They were safe. They were legal. They had an emphasis on training and security and safety. And it was a good source of revenue for the fairgrounds. I drink to cooling. I believe in them. You know from my experiences in running a company being CEO of a company for a number of years my motto then was it is today that you only expect what you inspect. So I started going to gun shows on my own at first I went to a number of gun shows and what I found was quite different than the koolaid I was asked to go to break. Right yeah. You know the board president Steven Schumacher he did a lot of research himself and he was told from the crossroads of the West people as were the rest of us that these gun shows have been safe over the last 25 years. But as he started to do some digging talking to the State Department of Justice he found out that there have been arrests at the fairgrounds. People sending in their wives or their girlfriends to buy them guns when they're convicted felons. And he said you know he's really after he did this digging. He just had enough and he really wanted to you know put a stop to these gun shows. So in essence what you're saying though Matt is that this decision may very well come back before the board. This issue may be something that they have to decide on again. Right. It's definitely come back before the board so staff right now have a deadline of December 2019 to come back with this proposal to do educational and safety related gun shows. But obviously that's December 2019 it's not saying that they have to come back in December next year with that they could come back in two months and say hey we have a proposal ready. But as far as that goes it seems like it's unlikely some is going to happen really fast but you never know. Now the organizers of the crossroads of the West Gun Show were not happy about this decision. What's been the reaction yet. The owner wasn't there for this when he was there at the at the meeting in April. But you know a lot of people were were who there were saying San Diego County gun owners they were saying that you know how can you have a gun show that doesn't have any guns. And from their perspective they say the gun shows one of the only places in San Diego were a one stop shop where everybody comes together and gun owners can kind of like have their day kind of like a car show and from their perspective they say how can you have a car show like without any cars. What are their options. Do they have any options to sue that you're aware of. You know it's interesting you bring that up because the board brought in their legal counsel and then they talked about different lawsuits that have happened. It's unclear if they're going to sue. It's really unclear what their position is in all of this. They weren't there yesterday but there is a possibility of litigation and obviously to this discussion that staffs are going to be having about these educational gun shows. It's unclear if they're going to want to even instrument having gun shows that are educational only they could potentially look for another location that might want to to host it. Speaking of other locations was there a discussion about whether or not this vote this vote by the Delmark Fair Grounds board could lead to similar actions at fairgrounds across the state. You know it's inching you that too because a couple of the board people said hey you know we want we implore other boards across the state to do the same thing to take a review of everything that's going on at their fairgrounds and see if gun shows are something that they want to have. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.

Board Votes To Put Gun Shows On Hold At Del Mar Fairgrounds Next Year
The fairgrounds board voted to postpone the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows for up to a year, while it looks at different ways to host the event.

More than 100 people came Tuesday to voice support and opposition for the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds board voted to postpone the gun shows for up to a year, while it looks at different ways to host the event.

Part of the decision directed fairgrounds staff to see if gun shows that are for "only educational and safety training purposes and bans the possession of guns and ammunition on state property," are feasible in the future.

RELATED: Del Mar Gun Shows To Take Break In 2019 While Board Studies Options

Board President Steve Shewmaker said the notion that the gun shows have not had any problems during its 25-plus years in Del Mar is not true.

"We’ve had actually two meetings with DOJ and there have been a number of arrests of felons in the possession here on the fairgrounds," Shewmaker said. "Sending their wives and girlfriends in to buy ammunition and guns here at the fairgrounds. A number of arrests, in fact, I think he said one particular Saturday — a year or two ago — there was four such arrests in the parking lot. Is that safe? I don’t think so."

James Miller, a trustee of the Cajon Valley Union School Board, said the gun show is one of the only places to learn how to properly and safely handle firearms.

"You look at movies you look at television — you’re not learning how to properly and safely handle a firearm," Miller said. "Conversely if you go to a place that has actual real-life training, real-life understanding and education components, they’re going to learn that’s it’s not mythical, there’s no mystery behind a firearm — it’s a tool."

There are still two gun shows scheduled to take place before 2018 ends. Fairgrounds staff have until December 2019 to come back to the board with recommendations for the future of gun shows.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.