DEL MAR — The 22nd District Agricultural Association Board room was filled with a few dozen impassioned community members at a July 16 meeting, with residents speaking against the temporary reinstatement of a longstanding gun show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Community members implored the 22nd DAA board of directors to “stay the course,” after the fairgrounds’ governing body voted in September 2018 to put a moratorium on the event for the duration of 2019. The move spurred show operator Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, as well as several gun advocacy groups and gun show merchants, to file suit in January.
In mid-June, U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo issued a preliminary injunction to allow Crossroads to continue holding shows pending the final outcome of the lawsuit. For the past 30 years up until 2019, Crossroads has held five shows a year in Del Mar.
In her memorandum opinion, the judge called the board’s ban on the event “presumptively unconstitutional.
As of mid-July, the lawsuit’s discovery process is on hold as the parties begin settlement discussions, according to Crossroads Attorney Tiffany Cheuvront.
Cheuvront told The Coast News that if a settlement has not been reached by Sept. 10, the plaintiffs will once again pursue litigation.
“I think everybody is trying to work towards a solution that will work for everyone,” Cheuvront said.
At the somewhat atypical July meeting, residents lauded the board’s original decision to ban the event while studying the possibility of holding gun shows for solely educative purposes, and implored the state-appointed board of directors to “(do) the right thing” in light of the injunction.
The only item in question was the lawsuit, and officials and residents were given a total of 30 minutes to address the board before closed session. The board did not make any comment on the lawsuit.
Most of the meeting’s attendees were members and supporters of NeverAgainCA, filling the room with orange in their signature anti-gun T-shirts. The Del Mar-based organization actively opposes the sale of firearms and ammunition at the state-owned property, and has done so since the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in early 2018.
Despite recent outcomes favoring Crossroads, NeverAgainCA members and advocates remained optimistic. Rose Ann Sharp, the group’s founder, pointed to a bill by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) that would ban the sale of guns and ammunitions at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The bill could be passed by 2021.
“The arc of history is bending in your direction,” Sharp said. “It should now be clear to everyone how the story will end in Sacramento.”
The meeting also drew public officials from the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas — all of which have passed resolutions opposing the sale of firearms and ammunition at the fairgrounds and are “foursquare against having gun shows at the fairgrounds,” said Del Mar Mayor Dave Druker.
Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kelly Harless, who has frequently spoken against the gun shows, said she is “concerned about where you’ll go from here.”
“You have the truth on your side, gun shows do harm our communities,” Harless said. “ … make no mistake about it, the cost of defending this lawsuit is nothing compared to the cost if something goes wrong in terms of liability and lives lost.”
One speaker, Lance Pelky, spoke in support of the gun shows, citing second amendment rights.
“Let’s educate about gun safety,” Pelky said. “But trying to ram rules down our throat and change the law is not the way to do it.”
According to the Crossroads website, the gun show will return to the fairgrounds on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29.
Photo Caption: AR-15s and various semi-automatic assault rifle parts were on sale at the 2018 Del Mar Fairgrounds gun show. Photo by Lexy Brodt
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.