California Fairgrounds Hosts Gun Show After Court Victory

(AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax, File)

It often feels like even when gun owners get a legal victory in court, not much changes in the real world. Decisions are stayed and appealed (and sometimes overturned), and all the while the challenged infringements continue.


That is not the case in Orange County, California, however, where for the first time in two years a gun show will be taking place at the county fairgrounds. Two years ago lawmakers in Sacramento approved a bill by Sen. Dave Min banning gun shows at the Orange County Fairgrounds specifically, while later adopting legislation that barred gun shows from all state-owned properties.

Crossroads of the West, which had hosted shows at the fairgrounds for more than twenty years, sued the state alongside several vendors, the South Bay Rod & Gun Club, as well as the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, and last October a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, granting an injunction that blocks the state from enforcing that law. As part of his order, U.S. District Judge John W. Holcomb ordered the Orange County Fairgrounds to allow Crossroads of the West to put on a show at the first available opportunity, and now that time has come.

Tracy Olcott, president of Crossroads of West, said it will be good to be back in Orange County this weekend.
“We’ve been doing shows here in Orange County since the early ’90s, so we’ve been doing it for a very long time and to be gone for two years, then to be able to come back and do the same thing we’ve done before is pretty amazing,” Olcott said. “There’s a lot of excitement here from the vendors and people who are buying tickets to come to the show.”
There’s a “strong need and desire” for gun shows in Orange County, Olcott said. “The people support it. We get tens of thousands of people here.
“I think it’s really important that people can come to the gun show and they’re able to talk about how they feel about their Second Amendment rights,” she said. “We use our First Amendment to come here and discuss things that are important to us. And it’s really fantastic for that kind of community that we have here.”
The show opens Friday, Jan. 19, and will run through Sunday, Jan. 21. Children ages 12 and younger can enter for free, those older have a $25 entrance fee.
I honestly expected the Ninth Circuit to have weighed in by now, but amazingly, the appellate court did not immediately intervene. Instead, oral arguments on Attorney General Rob Bonta’s appeal of the injunction are scheduled for March 6th, and a decision could take several weeks or months to come down. That means this weekend’s show is likely to be followed by several others, much to the chagrin of Sen. Min.
Min argues fairgrounds are supposed to be family friendly places.
“A gun show is anything but family-friendly,” Min said this week. “Why should the state be using state property for the distribution of guns that may likely lead to more gun violence in the communities where they’re sold?”
Say what now? Is Min suggesting that the panoply of gun restrictions already in place in California like a 10-day waiting period (which ensures no firearm actually changes hands at a gun show), universal background checks, and bans on everything from “assault weapons” to “unsafe” handguns (as defined in California law) aren’t effective at stopping violent crime? What’s the point of all those laws then?
Oh, that’s right. Preventing gun ownership is the end goal, so I guess I can understand why Min is so butthurt about this weekend’s gun show. Not only will some folks at least initiate the process of purchasing a firearm, but Californians of all ages will be exposed to the “dangerous” idea that they have the right to keep and bear the arms that Min wants to eradicate from society. If he and his buddies can’t ban gun ownership, banning gun shows is the next best thing, and as Judge Holcomb noted in his decision, Min himself has declared that to be his goal.
Statements by the challenged bills’ author highlight the difficulty that Defendants face in finding a historical analog; California State Senator Min declared that “California will become the first in the nation to enact a total ban statewide” on gun shows. The right to sell firearms is neither freestanding nor unlimited, but neither is the state’s ability to impose restrictions on firearms that are inconsistent “with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding.”
Min can bloviate all he wants, but as Holcomb made clear, he and his gun show ban are on the wrong side of both the First and Second Amendment. This weekend thousands of Californians will head to the Orange County Fairgrounds to exercise their right to keep and bear arms and their freedom of association, and that’s a beautiful thing to see. I hope each and every one of them stop by the CRPA booth and say thanks to some of the folks who made this weekend a reality, as well as kick in a couple bucks to the cause if they can. The gun show litigation is just one part of the CRPA’s efforts to restore the right to keep and bear arms in California, and there is still a lot of work to be done before those rights are secure from petty tyrants like Min.

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