Above, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA50) addresses opponents of the gun show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The Crossroads of the West Gun Show made its return to San Diego’s Del Mar Fairgrounds after a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction allowing the show to continue while an all-out suspension is considered.
Gun shows are controversial to many because of the less-regulated manner in which they make guns and ammo available. The Southern California cities of Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach have teamed up with activist groups like Never Again California to call for an end to the show, or to disallow further sales of weapons and ammunition at the show. Outside the show, constituents of these groups gathered en masse to protest (photo above).
“Less than ten percent” involves guns
California Rifle and Pistol Association attorney Tiffany Cheuvront recently defended the shows, calling them “a modern bazaar, with a wide assortment of food, interesting merchandise, and services available” where “less than ten percent” of the activities involved firearms or ammunition. It’s difficult to see how Cheuvront could support such a claim when guns and gun culture were so obviously at the core of the two-day event.
A group of attendees arriving at the show had gathered to discuss AB 893, Todd Gloria’s bill to prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. A speaker advised them to write the governor and express their opposition to the bill. Nearby was a small donation box with a sign demanding the recall of Governor Newsom.
It is true that numerous vendors of handmade goods, used books and politically tinged merchandise were sprinkled throughout the show. It is also true that the offerings were nearly always nods to gun advocacy and gun culture.
“A well-regulated what, now?”
Vendors were not sheepish about admitting that “straw buying”— the practice of buying ammunition intended for other people — occurs regularly at gun shows. Prop. 63, disallows the purchase of ammunition by people who have not completed a background check, and this is a workaround for non-gun-owners to buy ammo for use with weapons they don’t own. A clinic on how to build a custom, California-compliant AR-15 was another choice instance of working around the law.
At the “Freedom and Firearms” merchandise booth, the vendor explained that freedom and firearms are related because the Second Amendment says that Americans have the right to bear arms. When asked about the amendment’s mention of a well-regulated militia, she responded, “I don’t know, I’d have to check.”
Mixed in with all of the pro-gun merchandise, weaponry and ammunition were a number of Trump 2020 booths. While males dominated the attendance, there were families at the show. One boy who appeared to be five or six years old brandished an elaborate toy rifle complete with lights and simulated gunfire noises. The merchandise and messaging at the show patently targeted children and emphasized the message of teaching them early to use and carry guns.
YIMBY or NIMBY?
Standing out amid rows of glorified gun culture was the booth tended by the American Federation for Suicide Prevention, on hand to remind attendees that many people use firearms to attempt suicide. The staff at this booth reported that they received very little negative feedback from attendees.
Whether the show will continue remains up in the air for now, but it’s clear that this event is not about tasting dishes from around the world or buying books. The Crossroads of the West Gun Show is about selling guns and promoting gun culture, which is exactly what it purports to be.
But, if you’re a resident of North County San Diego, you have to ask yourself, “Is this something I’m comfortable having in my back yard?”
Carol Landale is a volunteer with San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP) and the San Diego chapter of Brady United. She stresses that neither organization is anti-gun, but rather that they both seek solutions to the problem of gun violence.
photo credit: Carol Landale