Proposed Gun Show Ban Draws Protesters


UP IN ARMS: South Central L.A. Tea Party supporters protest the Glendale City City Council’s proposed gun show ban outside the Glendale Gun Show at the civic auditorium on Saturday.

Sal Polcino, El Vaquero Staff Writer

In the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., Glendale City Council members reacted quickly by voting at their Jan. 22 meeting, to draft a proposal that will ban gun shows held on city-owned property.

The proposal, which passed by a 4-1 margin, is in process at the City Attorney’s office. If approved, it would make the Glendale Gun Show at the Civic Auditorium, which was held Saturday and Sunday, the last to be held in that venue.

Michael Garcia, Glendale City Attorney, said his office is investigating the legal ramifications of the proposed ordinance. “We plan to have it [the proposal] ready for the council by March 12,” said Garcia. The council will then decide to bring it up at that meeting or possibly delay the issue until March 19.

Dozens of picketers gathered outside the gun show Saturday. The protest was organized by the South Central L.A. Tea Party to protest the proposed ban. The crowd chanted, “No Biden,” and, “Nobama,” while shouting about second amendment rights.

Glendale Public Information Officer Thomas Lorenz said the Glendale Police Department set up a “special enforcement detail to monitor the surrounding area” for crowd control and parking enforcement. He also said they had extra staff on duty and coordinated with the GCC police department who also added additional staff for the event.

H. Paul Payne, liaison to the executive vice president of the NRA, said there were 1.3 million background checks in California in 2012.

“The Department of Justice wants regulated gun shows. Why would anyone not want firearms transactions on public property?”

Payne said he doesn’t think the proposed ban is about the Sandy Hook massacre, but about a political agenda. “This is not the first time this has come up,” he said. “A certain person brought [the gun show ban] up before when running for city council and the same councilman is now running for city treasurer.”

According to Lorenz, the City Council, including councilman Rafi Manoukian, who sponsored the proposal, decided not to comment until the proposal has been approved by the city attorney.

“All the city is doing is preventing gun shows on public facilities. If they want to go to the Glendale Hilton and have a gun show, we cannot restrict that under the First or Second Amendment,” said Lorenz. “The United States Supreme Court made it very clear. They’re saying ‘save our gun show,’ well, the Glendale Gun Show can still occur at a private facility.”

“L.A. County has already banned gun shows on its property [but there are still] shows in San Bernadino, Ontario, Costa Mesa in Orange County and shows within 50 miles of the city,” said Lorenz, “One in Lancaster is coming up in a few months.”

GCC Police Sergeant Samir Abou-Rass said there were no problems at the gun show. “Everyone is well-behaved and respectful,” he said.

Chuck Michel, civil rights attorney for the NRA, said there have been no problems in the 20 years the “family-owned” gun show has been held here. “The show normally attracts around 2,000 (attendees) but this year we are expecting 3,000 or more,” said Michel.

NRA representatives manned a booth outside the gun show entrance soliciting members in exchange for free admission.

The Glendale Gun Show has been held at the Civic Auditorium since 1992. The city council said the proposal was not about gun ownership rights, but concern for public safety, especially because the venue is in such close proximity to Glendale Community College.

Lorenz said only about 30 percent of the display tables at the show contained firearms. The remaining 70 percent held accessories, including hats, t-shirts, bumper-stickers. “No one will be leaving the show with a weapon,” he said. “All buyers will have to wait for the 10-day background check before taking delivery.” However, there were dozens of customers leaving with heavy ammunition boxes.

California, along with Colorado, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, New York and Illinois, has the most stringent gun purchasing laws in the U.S. Gun buyers at gun shows must adhere to the same regulations as buyers at gun stores. This means they have to go through the process of a background check, which includes exclusion for felonies and mental health issues, as well as a 10-day waiting period before receiving a permit and actually taking delivery of a weapon.

“California and Rhode Island are the only states with an across-the-board background check,” said Lorenz, who is also a Glendale police sergeant. There are 33 states that have no regulations, and buyers can leave gun shows with weapon in hand.

Glendale and Victorville gun show organizer Steve Friesen declined to comment on the proposal at this time.

There are two more gun shows scheduled at the Civic Auditorium this year in August and November.