Seattle suburb ponders ban on gun shows to "send a message"

Seattle suburb ponders ban on gun shows to "send a message"
(AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax, File)

Gun shows could soon become a thing of the past in Kitsap County, Washington, where activists are pushing commissioners to ban gun shows from the county fairgrounds all other government-owned property. It’s a move made possible thanks to changes in the state’s gun laws enacted by the Democratic majority in the Washington State legislature that empower towns and cities to impose their own local gun control measures that go beyond state statute; a strategy that gun control advocates are also deploying nationwide in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen.

The Kitsap County Commission is set to debate the gun show ban, as well as hear from the public, at a November 14th meeting, but head of the anticipated vote some commissioners are already speaking out about the supposed need for the restriction.

Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder said the commissioners were prompted to broach gun sales at the Fairgrounds — which includes Thunderbird Arena and Stadium, the Pavilion and Presidents’ Hall — following discussions about gun violence.

“The board discussed the various incidences of gun violence in recent years and how county policy/code might be able to minimize any direct or indirect contribution to those concerns locally,” Gelder wrote in an email. “This ordinance will do that to the extent allowed by state law.”

In other words, they’re blaming the gun rather than the relatively few residents of Kitsap County who are responsible for violent crime. If the county commissioners were really serious about wanting to minimize any contribution to violence, a much better place to start would be the local schools and criminal justice system. Honestly though, this is more about “sending a message” than addressing crime in the community.

State law allows counties and cities to enact firearms restrictions in any stadium or convention center operated by local governments, though it cannot restrict the showing, demonstration or a lecture involving firearms.

“Showing, demonstrations, and lectures involving the exhibition of firearms will be allowed,” Gelder said of the proposed ordinance. “The sale, trade, or exchange of firearms will be prohibited.”

The Kitsap County Fairgrounds has been host to gun shows in a variety of its buildings over the years, including the Presidents’ Hall and the Van Zee Building.

The most recent show, hosted by Falcon Productions, took place on Sept. 23 and was the third show for the business at the Fairgrounds in 2022. Another one, hosted by Big Top Productions, is scheduled for this weekend.

Michael Scribner, the owner of Falcon Productions, said he has been hosting gun shows at the Kitsap Fairgrounds for decades. He said his shows contain a variety of vendors — ranging from an acupuncturist to real estate agents — and are not limited to those selling firearms.

He said the proposed ordinance took him by surprise.

“I am shocked that the county commissioners would initiate a ban on any commerce event,” he said. “It’s a slippery slope when a tax-supported public property is able to discriminate against any group.”

When they’re empowered and encouraged to do so by the Democrat-dominated state legislature, it shouldn’t be a surprise to any gun owner when local anti-gun politicians eagerly use that newfound authority to go after the lawful commerce in arms, especially when their base derives such emotional satisfaction from making it harder for others to exercise their civil rights.

Mary Gleysteen, who serves on a sub-committee of the Kingston Community Advisory Council (KCAC), said she’s been lobbying commissioners on taking steps to address gun violence locally since 2017. She said she believes the signs advertising for the shows that pop up around the county glorify gun culture to youth. Discussions about a ban on the shows at the Fairgrounds came up at a KCAC meeting, which Gelder attended.

“I didn’t want my tax dollars supporting or facilitating the sales of guns in my community, because I am appalled by the school shootings and other violence that is perpetrated with guns,” Gleysteen said.

If Gleysteen would ever talk to any gun show attendee, I’m sure she’d be shocked to learn that they too are appalled by acts of violence. But Washington State already has plenty of gun control laws on the books, including universal background checks and a new ban on “large capacity” magazines that took effect earlier this year, and violent crime is only getting worse. Whether Gleysteen realizes it or not, she’s part of the problem; directing her energy towards making it harder for people to exercise a right when she should be focused on things that will actually reduce crime.

Unfortunately, Gleysteen isn’t the only prohibitionist out there, and in the wake of the Bruen decision the gun control lobby is making a concerted push to repeal firearms preemption laws and make it easier for political subdivisions to enact their own anti-gun laws like the one under consideration in Kitsap County. These local ordinances, which typically result in a misdemeanor charge at the most, aren’t going to have any impact on hardened criminals, but then, that’s not the goal. The end game is to make it too much of a legal and financial burden to exercise your fundamental right to armed self-defense, while doing everything possible to make gun ownership itself culturally taboo. These anti-gun activists are going to lose a lot more of these fights than they’re going to win, both in the court of law and public opinion, but gun owners should get ready for a lot more of these emotional attacks on our Second Amendment rights in the aftermath of the midterms.. at least where anti-gun ideologues manage to cling to power.