Federal Judge Blocks Calif. Board’s Attempt to Ban Gun Shows

Gun-rights proponents ‘delighted’

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A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking a California board's effort to ban gun shows from a San Diego County fairground.

Federal District Judge Cathy Bencivengo issued a verbal order from the bench preventing the Del Mar Fair Board from enforcing a moratorium they recently adopted on gun shows at their fairgrounds. The case was filed by a coalition of gun-rights groups after the board passed the ban in January.

The Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, and California Rifle and Pistol Assocation joined a number of gun dealers and clubs as well as five private citizens to challenge the board in court. They said the ban on gun shows at the location is a violation of their Second Amendment rights. Judge Bencivengo agreed there was enough of a case to block the ban pending further litigation.

The gun-rights groups celebrated the judge’s order.

"Of course, we're delighted with this ruling," Alan M. Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation executive vice president, said in a statement. "At a time, and in a state, where law-abiding gun owners seem under constant attack, having a federal judge side with our complaint validates our efforts to protect constitutional and civil rights."

Tiffany Cheuvront, civil rights attorney for the Crossroads of the West gun show that has operated at the fairgrounds, said the plaintiffs believe this first win is a sign they will ultimately prevail in the case.

"We're thankful Judge Bencivengo sees the Constitutional problem with banning these safe, perfectly-legal events and is allowing the show to go on while we continue to fight," she said in a statement. "We're confident that as this case progresses, law-abiding Americans' civil rights will not be unjustly violated and that we will prevail."

If the plaintiffs do succeed in the case, they will still have to fight state legislation that would also ban gun shows at the fairgrounds.

"The communities around the Del Mar Fairgrounds have been clear: They do not want these gun shows taking place on this state-owned land," Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D., San Diego), one of the bill’s cosponsors, told KPBS earlier this year. "With this bill, we are demonstrating that we value people over guns and are putting public safety first."

Her bill passed the California Assembly in April and passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee on June 11, according to the Del Mar Times.

Cheuvront said efforts to ban the Crossroads of the West gun show are animated mainly by a bias against guns, not public safety.

"These well-funded anti-gun groups are using every myth in the book to push their anti-gun agenda on a legal, safe, and family-friendly event that has been held for years because they simply don't like guns," Cheuvront said.

A schedule for the next hearing in the court case has not yet been made public. Gonzalez's bill is expected to pass the Senate and head to Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) this fall.