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US District Court Judge Rules Del Mar Gun Shows Can Continue … For Now

Inside the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Sept. ...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: Inside the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Sept. 29. 2018.

A federal judge ruled that gun shows can continue at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, at least for now, as the court considers a lawsuit against a state agency's decision to effectively suspend the shows, the California Rifle and Pistol Association announced Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo issued a preliminary injunction on Monday, ruling that the state must allow gun shows at the fairgrounds to continue while the court rules on the legality of the suspension. As such, gun shows like the Crossroads of the West will be allowed to reserve dates and hold shows at the fairgrounds for the first time since last December.

The state's 22nd District Agricultural Association Board of Directors, which oversees the Del Mar Fairgrounds, voted last September to temporarily ban the sale of guns and ammunition at the fairgrounds until state legislators could iron out concerns about on-site purchases.

The vote effectively suspended gun shows at the fairgrounds after Jan. 1, prompting the CRPA to file suit against the state of California. The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation are also supporting the CRPA in its grievance.

RELATED: Assembly Passes Gun Show Ban At Del Mar Fairgrounds

"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, attorney for the CRPA and B&L Productions, which runs the Crossroads of the West gun show. "We're confident that as this case progresses, law-abiding Americans' civil rights will not be unjustly violated and that we will prevail."

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 instances of gun violence around the country.

State officials also 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.

The offices of Gloria and Boerner-Horvath had no immediate comment on the ruling.

The case is expected to continue into the fall, according to Cheuvront. If the Senate passes AB 893 and Newsom signs the bill into law prior to the case's completion, the gun show organizers would likely file a second lawsuit to have the ban struck down.

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