Del Mar Gun Shows May End in 2019 Pending Policy to be Mulled by Fair Board

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A gun show similar to Crossroads of the West in Del Mar. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

By Ken Stone

The Del Mar Fairgrounds would forbid any new gun shows beyond this year under a proposal to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the fair board — a plan certain to trigger praise and condemnation.

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The plan is recommended by the two-member Contracts Committee of the 22nd District Agricultural Association board.

Under the draft proposal, the board would consider no contracts with the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows until the fair board has put into place a “more thorough policy regarding the conduct of gun shows.”

Among other things, a new policy would:

  • Consider the feasibility of conducting gun shows for only educational and safety training purposes and ban the possession of guns and ammunition on state property.
  • Align gun show contract language with recent changes in state and federal law.
  • Detail an enhanced security plan for the conduct of future shows.
  • Propose a safety plan.
  • And consider the age appropriateness of such an event.

Among those cheering the proposal is Rose Ann Sharp of NeverAgainCa, who in a statement Friday said she was confident the fair board would adopt “this commonsense approach” at its 10 a.m. meeting Tuesday at Surfside Race Place in the Sports Club on the second floor of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.

Sharp quoted a letter from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Democratic candidate for governor) to the board: “If California continues to permit the sale of firearms and ammunition on state-owned property, we are sending a signal that we value the sale of firearms above the lives of Americans.”

According to a report from Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO and General Manager Timothy Fennel, five gun shows have been requested for 2019: March 16-17, May 18-19, July 13-14, Oct. 5-6 and Dec. 14-15. (Crossroads of the West will stage two more gun shows this year — Sept. 29-30 and Dec. 8-9.)

Del Mar fair board agenda for Sept. 11, 2018. Proposal is on page 99. (PDF)
“B&L Productions has been producing Gun Shows for 30 years since 1988 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds,” Fennell said in his report. “Annually they host five separate two-day shows averaging between 6,000 to 10,000 people per weekend. Staff reports the show producers are very corporative, they fulfill contract deposits on time, they comply with all requirements from law enforcement and have very little internal issues in managing the event.”
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He said the pros of having gun shows may include obtaining a steady revenue stream from loyal patrons and branding developed over the 30-year history.

“The events are well known meeting the needs of gun show enthusiasts in San Diego,” he said. “The show supports temporary jobs for security personnel, contractors, vendors, food and beverage, medical staff, other event personnel. The large number of attendance per show generates exposure to the fairgrounds through their marketing efforts.”

Crossroads of the West did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Michael Schwartz of San Diego County Gun Owners, a political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, noted support of the gun show by local city officials.

“The letters … were from several city mayors, including Bill Wells of El Cajon, Sam Abed of Escondido, Peter Weiss of Oceanside, Jim Desmond of San Marcos and Richard Bailey of Coronado,” Schwartz said in a news release. “Additional letters were from members of local city councils throughout San Diego County, including Rob McNelis of Santee, Kristine Alessio of La Mesa, Matt Mendoza of Lemon Grove, John Masson and Mike Morasco of Escondido, Jerome Kern and Jack Feller of Oceanside, Kristal Jabara of San Marcos, Mike Diaz of Chula Vista, Chris Cate of San Diego, John Mullin of Poway and John Aguilera, Amanda Young Rigby and John Franklin of Vista.”

Schwartz also slammed fair board President Steve Shewmaker, who wrote his own letter to the pro-gun show officials.

“I am in receipt of your letter…and want to verify that the position you have taken in your letter regarding show shows at the Del Fair Fairgrounds reflects your personal views and not those of the city as a whole,” Shewmaker was quoted as saying in his letter to the elected city officials.

“There is no clear indication in your letter, which was on city letterhead, supporting this statement (supporting gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds), nor do we have a resolution on file from your city in support of gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.”

SDCGO executive director Schwartz said: “Stewmaker is attempting to portray the letters you sent on behalf of your constituents as meaningless. He is trying to clear away all resistance to his personal political agenda of ending the gun show rather (than) be the responsible fiduciary the public expects.

“Now he is trying to denigrate your voters and constituents who support and attend the gun show at the regional fairgrounds in Del Mar while purposely spreading misinformation.”

The Contracts Committee, which oversees Del Mar Fairgrounds contracts, is composed of Shewmaker as chair and Richard Valdez as co-chair.

If the proposal is approved by a board majority after public comment, a new gun show policy would be developed by 22nd DAA staff and presented to the board no later than the December 2019 board meeting.

Updated at 3:48 p.m. Sept. 7, 2018

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