DEL MAR — The 22nd District Agricultural Association agreed to discuss the annual gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds following a request at the Aug. 9 meeting from members of Advocates for Gun Safety, a self-described “unincorporated association of concerned community citizens.”
In a letter to the board that governs the state-owned facility, the organization urged directors to address at a future meeting “whether it remains appropriate … to support the gun culture in our nation by serving as a venue for gun shows.”
The letter was signed by 26 local residents, mostly from Del Mar and Solana Beach, who stated they “are not out to take away anyone’s right to own guns under the Second Amendment.”
“(W)e honor and respect the U.S. Constitution,” the letter states. “We are out to help make the U.S. a safer place for our communities and for our children.
“We join with the growing number of Americans who have had enough killing of our own citizens and children at the hands of those who should not have guns: suspected terrorists, the mentally ill and emotionally disturbed citizens, children too young to know better, and those simply bent on criminal conduct.”
According to the letter, which cites various estimates and statistics associated with gun violence, the solution to the growing problem is the “enactment of reasonable, sensible and proven gun safety regulations.”
“Let’s not continue to use the public resources and assets of … California for encouraging this public health crisis and contributing to the growing number of deaths of innocent Americans, young and old!” the letter states.
“The glorification of guns does not square with the fairgrounds’ opportunity to provide wholesome family entertainment,” Del Mar resident RoseAnn Sharp said during the public comment period. “The glorification of guns and ammunition is not a memory you should promote.”
“Change is inevitable,” Del Mar resident Wayne Dernetz said. “Advocates for Gun Safety believe it is time for another change.
“We believe it is in your best interest as well as the public’s to discontinue allowing the public fairgrounds facilities to be used for the exhibition of guns and firearms,” Dernetz added. “This is your tobacco-industry moment. You will have to choose whether to do what is right for the majority of Americans or continue to serve the interests of the gun industry.”
The fairgrounds receives about $20,000 in rent for each of the four gun shows held there annually. During the most recent one on July 9, about 20 Advocates for Gun Safety members held a rally for gun violence prevention and in support of the Safety for All gun control initiative.
Wearing orange T-shirts, participants stood across from the main entrance of the fairgrounds for about two hours waving at passers-by. They held handmade signs and a 1,000-foot tape banner from YellowTapeProject.com, a campaign advocating for responsible gun regulations nationwide.
Director David Watson received no objections at the August meeting when he requested that the issue be placed on a future agenda, possibly in October, which will give staff time to develop a presentation.
Watson said the discussion will be an opportunity to education the public and board members on what is allowed at gun shows.
The effort to ban gun shows at the fairgrounds is not new. Most recently a request was made in 2013 following a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in which 20 students and six adult staff members were killed. Most of the approximately 15 speakers at a March meeting that year supported continuing the shows, saying they provide a safe, legal avenue for law-abiding people to purchase protection for their families.
They also cited the economic benefits, including sales tax revenue and money spent by visitors at restaurants and retail shops who come from throughout the county to attend the shows. Not long after the board president at the time asked his colleagues if they wanted to discuss the request but none did.