S.F. gun shows in Newsom’s crosshairs

A city hit hard by gun violence should not have gun sales at its back door, said Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is expected to announce today that The City is seeking state legislation to end gun shows at the Cow Palace.

While the exhibition hall is technically located in Daly City, it is just blocks away from San Francisco’s Sunnydale Housing Project, one of many neighborhoods in The City plagued by gun violence.

Although the gun shows are legal, Newsom said numerous illegal gun transactions occur in the parking lot during the show, which will take place Saturday and Sunday. Another gun show is scheduled in November.

“It needs to be shut down, and we’re going to do our best to do that,” Newsom said.

Any effort to stop the gun shows would require a change in state law, however, because the Cow Palace is owned and operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Newsom said he and District Attorney Kamala Harris have enlisted the help of state Assemblyman Mark Leno to get the gun shows out of the Cow Palace.

Steve Lyle, a spokesperson for the state Department of Food and Agriculture, said he wouldn’t be able to comment on any possible legislation regulating what types of events could be held at the state facility until he saw the proposed wording. Bob Templeton, president of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, did not return a call for comment.

The City is misguided in its efforts, National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said.

“If their intent is to curb crime, they should unequivocally put all the pressure on the criminal elements, not on law-abiding citizens,” said Arulanandam, who said a heavy presence of federal, state and local law enforcement at gun shows prevented what’s known as “straw purchasing,” in which a gun is legally bought and then sold illegally afterward.

Past undercover operations in the Cow Palace’s parking lot during the gun shows, conducted by the San Francisco Police Department, prove that such illegal transfers do happen, said Newsom, who hesitated when asked if such a sting operation was planned for this weekend.

“We’re going to be doing what’s appropriate,” Newsom said. “Obviously if we say it, no one will be out there.”

San Francisco has seen 64 homicides as of July 31 of this year, compared with 48 at the same time last year.

Illegal guns are responsible for the majority of shootings, according to city officials. Earlier this month, Newsom signed gun-control legislation in an effort to reduce illegal gun activity. The three pieces of legislation prohibit the possession or sale of firearms on city property, require firearms in residences to be in a locked container or have trigger locks, and require firearm dealers to submit an inventory to the chief of police every six months.

Firearms owners target proposed ordinances

While county ordinances banning firearms on government property continue to proliferate in the nine-county Bay Area, gun owners continue to fight what they call an attack on the law-abiding gun culture.

Since the late 1990s, four Bay Area counties — Alameda, Marin, San Mateo and Sonoma — have successfully passed ordinances banning gun possession on municipal property, including fairgrounds — which has left Cow Palace in Daly City one of the only venues for gun shows because of its location on state property.

Earlier this year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by two gun show promoters that challenged Alameda County’s 1999 gun ordinance, ruling that it is a public-safety measure. An appeal of the ruling is under way.

Since Alameda County passed its ordinance — which was in response to a shooting at the Pleasanton fairgrounds the year before — the three other Bay Area counties have followed suit. Los Angeles County has also passed an ordinance.

“These local governments are taking advantage of a signal, although I think it is the wrong signal, that it’s deuces wild when it comes to passing gun law,” said Donald Kilmer, the attorney representing the gun show promoters challenging Alameda County. “Once we win against Alameda, we’ll challenge the other ordinances.” — Alexandria Rocha



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