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Don’t Be Gun-Shy
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

California State Senator Mark Leno of the 11th District is not gun-shy when authoring bills to regulate guns in California – distinguishing our state along with Connecticut as states with full strength gun control laws unlike the failed, watered–down attempts in the U.S. Congress to pass legislation. His latest bill, SB 475, will raise the temperature for the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, the longstanding promoter of the gun shows through the Western U.S. and at the Cow Palace in its home at the State Agricultural District 1-A located in the jurisdiction of the County of San Mateo and the City and County of San Francisco. Passed in the Senate (as of this writing) and expected to pass in the Assembly, local control will gain the authority to approve the gun shows at this site.

The Cow Palace, a state-owned property located in both San Francisco and San Mateo counties and operated by the State Department of Food and Agriculture is exempt from local ordinances. Senate Bill 475 requires that before events in which firearms or ammunition are sold at the Cow Palace, prior approval must be obtained from the San Mateo and San Francisco County Boards of Supervisors. The heft of SB 475 is the strengthening of the local jurisdictions, which always have the primary responsibility for maintaining the public safety of their communities.

Even though the standards are high for gun show operations at our State’s Fairgrounds, local communities may find that gun shows still pose an unacceptable risk to public safety of their communities. Local entities are often able to adopt ordinances more stringent than those that apply to the State as a whole in order to protect their citizens. In that vein both San Mateo County and San Francisco County adopted resolutions in 2003 asking the California Legislature to terminate gun shows at the Cow Palace. These resolutions are not binding on State property, but now the Legislature after failing to act for ten years is affirming the local responsibilities embodied in these resolutions.

At our community level it remains to be seen how high the heat can be raised to secure a similar state Legislative action. Will the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors seek a corresponding intervention with the 22nd Agricultural District that now permits five Crossroads of the West guns shows each year? Can our local governments and law enforcement agencies express their concerns with enough persuasion about the welfare of their constituents? And can local advocacy groups such as the Brady Campaign, Moms Demand Action and Stop the Del Mar Gun Shows present their campaigns forcefully enough to convince their elected leaders? These are questions we should pursue.



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