In summary

Gun shows are not dangerous and absolutely belong on fairgrounds as much as an agricultural fair or bridal show. Government should not discriminate against lawful activity because some do not agree with it.

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By Tiffany Cheuvront, Special to CalMatters

Tiffany Cheuvront is a civil rights attorney who represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association,

Gun shows are safe, appropriate events that frequently take place across California. Yet many gun control advocates cite dubious statistics about gun shows to justify support for legislation to end gun shows on state property, such as fairgrounds.

Some would have you believe that California gun shows are lawless events where vendors sell guns to violent gangs or without paperwork. Nothing could be further from the truth: California gun shows are more highly regulated than brick-and-mortar gun shops. 

No California politician has been able to provide statistics specific to any criminal activity or to any danger at California gun shows. Government should not discriminate against lawful activity because some politicians do not agree with it.

California gun shows are not a place where criminals get guns. Every firearm dealer at a gun show has passed a background check and is licensed with both the state and federal government. Law enforcement officers are stationed across the venue, background checks of buyers must take place, and no one leaves a California gun show with a firearm. There is a 10-day waiting period in California for firearms transactions, and that applies to weapons sold at gun shows, too.

Gun shows are family-friendly events — the kind state fair properties were designed to host. 

Only about 30% of gun show exhibitors sell guns or ammunition (which a buyer also cannot acquire the same day). The rest sell collectibles, merchandise and food, much like a flea market with hot dogs. 

Gun shows draw multiple generations of families who share a love of hunting and the outdoors.

Gun shows draw couples who often are introducing their spouse to firearms and self-protection. 

Gun shows draw new gun owners, such as the more than 1 million gun buyers in 2020, who want to learn more about protecting themselves and their families. 

Most important, gun shows provide a large venue for those who choose to own a firearm for lawful purposes to learn more about firearms and discuss issues that are important to gun owners in California.

Simply put, state fairgrounds are the only type of venue with the space to host events of this size effectively, safely and without incident.

An attempt by a local fair board to shut out gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County was rebuffed by a federal court in 2020. The court made it clear that banning gun shows in these venues was an unconstitutional attack on free speech and association. The state paid $500,000 to the gun show operator to settle the case.

Why are elected officials such as state Sen. Dave Min, the author of legislation to ban gun shows from state fairgrounds, continuing to try to limit the rights of law-abiding Californians? Californians should know that gun shows are not dangerous and absolutely belong on government property. Under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. The government is supposed to protect our constitutional rights, not take them away. 

The California Rifle & Pistol Association, the state’s oldest Second Amendment rights organization, encourages all California firearms owners to tell their state senator to oppose Senate Bill 264, which would effectively — and unfairly — end gun shows on all state-owned property in California.

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