DEL MAR — Gun laws are a hot topic and California possesses some of the strictest regulations in the country when it comes to guns.
On March 17, the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee held its second annual gun law convention at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Executive Director Michael Schwartz organized three discussions and a live demonstration to inform attendees of the state’s current and soon-to-be laws.
The first panel featured four attorneys discussing and taking questions about some of the latest laws, many of which they said are contradictory and overreaching. The second panel featured those in the industry working on legislation for gun owners, activism, education and complying with the law.
“Everybody that attended enjoyed it, got a lot out of it and learned a whole lot,” Schwartz said. “We really want to grow this into a true convention that is regional. There are bans on accessories, types of semi-automatic rifles and pistols to some degree. Navigating all that is very, very difficult because in the rest of the country it’s very normal activity to own these types of rifles, pistols and accessories that are banned in California. Trying to navigate an industry that sells products that are normal across the country and that are illegal here is very difficult.”
Schwartz and Craig Deluz of the Firearms Policy Coalition described their work on educating local and state lawmakers and working toward sensible legislation. They both said their groups are bipartisan and focus only on Second Amendment issues, cautioning the audience of supporting a politician just because of party affiliation.
San Diego County Gun Owners has endorsed San Diego County Sheriff candidate Dave Myers, noting his support and action for allowing concealed carry permits. Deluz said his group has worked with Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento to fight against overreaching legislation.
In addition, he said the group’s social media presence is a source of news and information for gun owners in California and several other states.
“We didn’t exist four-and-a-half years ago,” Deluz said. “You can use social media, but social media must be strategic. It has to lead someone to take action.”
On the liberal front, Lara Smith of the Liberal Gun Club was also part of the panel. Although much of her political concerns were different from many in attendance, her love of guns, safety training, education and activism allows liberals afraid to express those same views a safe place.
She noted 25 percent of Democrats in the state own a gun, perhaps surprising many in attendance. She also said issues such as self-defense don’t play well with liberal gun owners, therefore other tactics are used to educate and welcome those people into the community.
“My group is specifically targeted,” Smith said, adding that Liberals aren’t traditionally targeted by the gun community. “I don’t support bans because bans don’t work. Our focus is on education. So many people are afraid of guns because the only place they see them are strapped to the hip of a cop.”
Wes Cross, co-founder of Cross Armory in Carlsbad, gave a demonstration with the AR-15 rifle, showing attendees how his company ensures compliance. Cross demonstrated the differences between a fixed magazine (where the magazine cannot be removed unless the upper and lower receivers separate), featureless (weapon cannot have a pistol or forward grip and a collapsible stock, among others) and the bullet button (which is classified as an assault rifle, must be registered and where a tool is inserted to release the magazine).
“We make compliance products that make the laws more easy to comply with,” Cross said. “There’s a lot of fear out there. Our main goal is to let people know we have parts and products to use. Typically, gun owners aren’t very vocal. That general demeanor has allowed for all these radical laws to be passed without much pullback.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.