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Advocates call for end to gun shows at Cow Palace

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Advocates are lobbying the Cow Palace board to end regular gun shows at the Daly City venue. (Laura Waxmann/S.F. Examiner)

Gun control advocates on Tuesday urged the Cow Palace Board of Directors to stop hosting gun shows, citing prior gun convictions of the show’s organizers and a possible link between the company and last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people.

The shooter in that incident is accused of illegally purchasing bullets from vendors that he connected with at gun shows in Las Vegas and in Phoenix. The advocates said that the shows may have been operated by Crossroads of the West, the company currently working on a three-year contract with the state-owned Cow Palace.

“The dates and locations of those gun shows correspond to gun shows held by Crossroads of the West,” said Ruth Borenstein, an organizer with the San Francisco chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.

“I want the board to think about how they would have felt if …the seller of these illegal bullets said he first connected with the shooter at a Crossroads of the West gun show here at the Cow Palace,” she said.

The group, which has been lobbying for an end to the Daly City gun shows since April, also urged the Cow Palace’s Board of Directors to investigate whether a decades-old federal firearms convictions of Crossroad’s founder provided legal grounds to end a current contract allowing the company to organize a total of seven more gun shows through December 2019.

“The board could potentially act if it turns out that there were some things that the Crossroads owner has done that may lead to disqualifying them or give grounds to terminating the contract,” said Borenstein, who added that the group has urged the board to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the allegations.

Crossroad’s president Bob Templeton pleaded guilty in 1980 to unlawfully selling a .38 special revolver out of state. He was indicted by a federal grand jury and faced 16 counts of unlawful sales of firearms, making a false statement and aiding and abetting, though those charges were dropped, as was previously reported by The Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

Templeton’s son, Jeff Templeton, also has criminal convictions and has not been involved with the family business because of them.

But the contract with the Cow Palace was signed by Templeton’s daughter, Traci Olcott, who is certified with the DOJ’s Department of Firearms, according to Cow Palace CEO Lori Marshall.

The gun shows, which take place some five times a year, net the Cow Palace some $125,000 annually.

“If that show goes away we would need to make up the difference for that income,” said Marshall, adding that the gun shows equate to some 10-12 percent of the Cow Palace’s net revenue. “It’s a big chunk.”

Marshall said that recent changes in law have also put another popular show, Hempcon, in jeopardy. That show nets some $180,000 annually for the Cow Palace,

“The new policy for the District Agricultural Association is to get your local municipalities to sign off on any Hempcon events,” Marshall told Cow Palace board members on Tuesday. “We have not had Daly City sign off on the event for our current promoter.”

Marshall did not indicate whether she planned to honor the gun control advocates’ request to agendize a discussion around discontinuing the gun show, but said that the decision may soon be out of the hands of the Cow Palace’s leadership.

Senate Bill 221, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting in May on the heels of a school shooting in Houston, would ban gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace specifically. The bill is headed to the Senate’s Appropriations Committee.

“If the bill passes, it’s not in the position of the board to make a decision on whether to have a gun shows or not,” she said, adding that for now, the gun show is “a legal event that we have a contract we will honor until the end of 2019, and we will see what happens after that.”

Prior attempts to shut down the guns shows locally have been largely unsuccessful, including 2013 legislation that would have required approval by local authorities. That legislation was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

As recently as June, students protested at a Cow Palace gun show, and the San Mateo Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of Wiener’s bill.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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