COMMENTARY Safety Advocates Shot Down
Rose Ann Sharp | Crest Road
Advocates for Gun Safety is not against guns, gun-owners, or gun shows. We believe gun shows are inappropriate in a family entertainment, state-owned venue in a coastal community. Gun shows do not belong at the Fairgrounds any more than tobacco vending machines belong at Torrey Pines High School.
On November 15, the Directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association decided to continue allowing gun shows after finding that there has never been a major accident or significant legal violation. According to Tim Finnell, CEO of the Fairgrounds, they gross a half-million dollars in revenue from the five gun shows annually, although it appears that $96,000 of that is refunded to the gun show sponsor.
One Director congratulated Wayne Dernetz on his outstanding legal research in his presentation to the Board. He believed this provided a useful background for new Board members. Only Director Lee Haydu, former Del Mar Mayor, questioned the safety and appropriateness of young children exiting Gun shows riding on top of pallets of boxes of ammunition.
Despite evidence drawn from personal and professional experience of witnesses supporting the Advocates’ argument from several psychologists including Felise Levine, PhD, a UCSD medical doctor and the warning of former school principal Kathy Murphy about the glorification of guns among young people, as well as the presence of re-elected Mayor Sherryl Parks and current City Council Member Dwight Worden, and many other Del Mar and Solana Beach residents, the Board demurred.
The Union Tribune in its Sunday, November 27, issue looked at horse racing at the Fairgrounds in a “Race for Survival.” Others are asking about other Fairgrounds uses, too. Or as Stephanie Moseley from Solana Beach asked: maybe the time for a Fairgrounds has passed.
Dwight Worden suggested the Sports Arena, now called Valley View Casino Center, as a better location for gun shows. It is privately operated and has the space, central location, and security. The Fairgrounds purchases services from the Sheriff’s department for its additional security.
The gun show at the Fairgrounds is based upon a 26-year relationship with Crossroads of America. The Fairgrounds Board should require a competitive bidding process and a thorough state audit of the Fairgrounds operations as the starting point to understand how the Fairgrounds survives outside of horse racing.
About 25 other members of Advocates for Gun Safety were present to support our position and to yield their time to key speakers if required. About 35 gun enthusiasts spoke about their Second Amendment rights and their belief that people are safer when they are armed with guns and children know how to use them safely.