Irvine Senator David Min was running in a 5k race at the Orange County fairgrounds on Aug. 5, 2019. For OC residents, this was a typical fair day filled with fried foods and entertainment, but across the country in Dayton, Ohio, a consecutive mass shooting had claimed the lives of nine victims and injured 27 more.
As Min completed the race, he and fellow participants were handed promotional fliers, according to the OC Register. One of these fliers was for the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, an annual gun show that takes place during the OC Fair. This experience inspired Min to pen B-264 Firearms: The OC Fair and Event Center, a bill that would ban gun shows and sales of firearms and gun parts at the state-owned OC Fair and Event Center.
An important part of the bill is addressing the sale of “ghost guns.” At these gun shows, some booths sell gun parts that can be purchased separately and built into a gun with no serial number and no background check for the owner. This is currently legal under federal law.
This bill has passed the state Assembly Public Safety Committee, and is currently awaiting a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom, who has until Oct. 10 to sign the bill.
“We are facing tragic and unacceptable levels of gun violence in our state. These are not just statistics, and we cannot simply accept the status quo as normal,” Min stated in a press release. “California must get out of the business of perpetuating gun violence.”
While our editorial board is in full support of gun safety and common-sense legislation to keep people safe from mass shootings ravaging the country, we believe that this bill will simply amount to a publicity stunt that leads to no lasting change and does nothing to address the problem of gun violence in our society.
For starters, this law will only address the gun shows in Orange County on state property. According to the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows website, they’re hosting upcoming gun shows in San Bernardino, Ontario and Ventura. These shows will not be affected by the bill, as they are not held on state-owned property. How will this bill be effective in reducing the number of guns in OC, when interested buyers can drive less than an hour to the same show?
Furthermore, according to the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows website, gun shows in California are not a “free-for-all where anyone can buy anything.” Gun shows have to abide by the same laws as gun stores. Anyone attempting to purchase a firearm must pass a background check through the U.S. Department of Justice, and it’s a felony for a “prohibited person” to even attempt to purchase a gun. The same 10-day waiting period for picking up purchased firearms also applies to gun shows, meaning people aren’t walking out same-day with firearms.
Another reason this won’t do much to solve the issue of gun violence is a provision in the bill that provides an exemption from the ban to any seller that enters a contract with the OC Fair and Event Center prior to Jan. 1, 2022. According to reporting by Voice of OC, OC Fair officials may rush to approve a contract before that deadline, which would allow Crossroads of the West Gun Shows to continue holding these shows for a predetermined amount of time following the ban.
Voice of OC also reported that Crossroads of the West Gun Shows “acknowledged prior conversations by the Board regarding firearm precursor parts used to make ‘ghost guns,’ and has offered to consider eliminating those exhibitors from its 2022 shows if approved” for a contract.
The OC Register reported that regular attendants at these shows include the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Justice, as well as local law enforcement. If regulating firearms more efficiently is the goal, what better place is there to do that on state property where local, state and federal authority figures are present? Surely, that provides more oversight than leaving these regulations to be enforced by individually owned gun shops.
Finally, according to the San Diego Union Tribune’s interview with Bob Templeton, founder of the Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, in the show’s 25 year history at the OC Fair and Event Center, there has been “no serious law enforcement issues or any guns traced to the show that were used in crimes.”
It seems as if this bill is simply creating a strawman opponent, with a misrepresented premise to make it look like our state legislators are addressing the problem of gun violence— while truly, this bill will likely have no impact on this issue in the future. Why not focus on addressing the federal laws that allow for loopholes like ghost guns and passing laws that actually reduce gun violence? Why not focus on fixing the root problems of gun violence, like mental health issues? Why not use the $6 million profit OC has seen the last 25 years from these gun shows to fund smart gun technology that uses biometrics to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands?
For these reasons, our editorial board opposes this bill proposed by Sen. Min. We wholly support gun safety and regulation in our state, country and community, but would like to see the state’s resources and energy focused towards solutions that will have more of an impact on the gun violence crisis.
The opinions expressed in this editorial do not necessarily represent the views of all Coast Report staff.
The Coast Report Editorial Board consists of the editor in chief and section editors. One member of the editorial board writes the editorial and this rotates throughout the semester.
Editorial topics are pitched by all members of the board and a single topic is selected for each editorial. Each editorial board member votes on their position on the selected topic and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a tie on the first vote, editorial board members engage in continued discussion and state the reasons for their initial vote. A second vote is then taken and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a second tied vote, the editorial position will be decided at the discretion of the editor in chief.
For this editorial, the initial board vote on the issue resulted in a 3-3 tie, triggering further discussion and a second vote. The second vote resulted in a 4-2 majority of the board voting no to the question "should gun shows be banned at the OC Fairgrounds?" Coast Report publishes voting results to promote transparency.