DEL MAR — Students from local schools were on hand June 1 for opening day of the San Diego County Fair, but not to indulge in fried food, experience thrill rides or visit exhibits.
From 3 to 6 p.m., different pairs of teenagers from three middle and high schools near the Del Mar Fairgrounds stood outside the state-owned facility with a banner that read, “Make Our Fairgrounds Gun Free – Stop Gun Shows Here.”
“This quiet, purposefully small demonstration … is meant to alert those going to the opening of the fair that these 400 acres of state-owned land should be used for safe, family-friendly events for all the communities it serves,” Del Mar resident Rose Ann Sharp, a leader with the NeverAgainCA campaign, stated in an email.
“With the closure of Torrey Pines school due to a threat of gun violence and the subsequent arrest of a suspect (May 31) … students are keenly aware of the dangers coming to their communities from the gun glorification and nefarious events at gun shows,” she added.
Advocates of the shows, which are held about five times a year at the fairgrounds, say banning the events infringes on their First and Second Amendments rights and will not stop gun violence.
Additionally, they say attendees are law-abiding citizens who attend the shows, which are heavily regulated, for education and to buy other products.
State law prohibits anyone who buys a gun at a show from taking it home that day. Following a mandatory waiting period and background check, the firearm must be picked up off-site from an authorized dealer.
Standing at the intersection of Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Caroline Zdanowski, a Canyon Crest Academy freshman, and Jack Chine, a seventh-grader at The Rhoades School, said the response was mostly positive.
“We’ve had a lot of thumbs up and honks,” Caroline said.
“There was just one head shake,” Jack added.
Sharp said the goal of the demonstration was to urge passers-by to send letters to the 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors, who will discuss the shows at the Sept. 11 meeting.