Gun shows will soon be history at the Cow Palace, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Daly City venue’s board of directors on Tuesday to discontinue them beginning in January 2020.
A three-year contract with the gun show’s organizers, Crossroads of the West, is set to expire next year, and will not be renewed.
The vote follows more than a decade-and-half of activism by community and gun control advocates, some of whom urged Cow Palace board members to adopt a policy statement directing the state-owned venue to ban the shows, which they say have placed a community already impacted by gun violence at increased risk.
“No state agency should be promoting or profiting from the proliferation of firearms and ammunition in our communities,” said Ruth Borenstein, of theSan Francisco chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, who on Tuesday urged the board to adopt the policy. “Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding of the Cow Palace, which bear the burden of gun violence in the area, have been protesting the gun shows since the mid-1990s.”
The Board also voted to allocate 12.5 acres of the Cow Palace’s upper parking lot for development into retail and housing. Tuesday’s vote on banning the gun shows follows efforts at the local and state level to end the gun shows.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has previously voted to ban gun shows at the Cow Palace. Senate Bill 281, introduced earlier this year by Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting, would not only ban gun and ammunition sales there but also transfer control of the property from the state-appointed board to the joint authority of San Mateo County, Daly City and San Francisco.
Wiener said in a statement on Tuesday that while he is happy with the vote, “it shouldn’t have taken decades for the Board to do so.”
“For many years, the local community has been asking the Cow Palace to stop the gun shows, but the Cow Palace ignored those pleas,” said Wiener, adding that he is the third senator over the past 15 years to author a bill banning gun shows at the venue. “It shouldn’t have taken our legislation to get the Cow Palace to pay attention. Today’s decision to end the gun shows, while welcome, does not change the need for fundamental change at the Cow Palace.”
Cow Palace CEO Lori Marshall previously told the San Francisco Examiner that the shows, which take place some five times a year, net the Cow Palace some $125,000 annually.
According to the policy statement adopted Thursday, the board’s action “in no way shall be taken to indicate that the board has found there to be any improprieties on the part of the promoters of the past gun show at its facilities.”
“There are implications that we and the gun show owners are careless. No law enforcement agency ever traced a gun used in a violent act to this gun show,” said Barbara Wanvig, the board’s first vice president. “We can support this resolution and still point out that we have been extremely careful in how we handled this.”
Shawn Richard, founder of Brothers Against Guns, stood at the meeting holding up a poster board decorated with a photograph of his brother, who was shot and killed 24 years ago on Tuesday.
Richards made a case for ending the gun shows. Four years after his brother’s death, Richard said he lost another brother to gun violence in San Francisco.
“I started protesting gun shows outside of the Cow Palace in 1995, I was the first one,” said Richard. “Four years later my second brother was killed. Buying guns on the streets is cheap, a human life is priceless.”
Borenstein, who presented the board with a petition to end the shows that garnered some 900 signatures last May, called the board’s decision “huge.”
“I’m overjoyed, this is a big step, and it’s going to help keep more guns off our streets,” she said.