Thanks to a federal judge’s decision to grant an injunction against two California laws barring gun shows at state fairgrounds and on all state-owned property, we may soon see shows return to locations where they’ve been off-limits for many months. But U.S. District Judge John Holcomb’s order doesn’t include the fairgrounds in Ventura County, California, which was the subject of its very own legislation approved and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year.
Still, Rob Templeton, who runs Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, says he’s asked the fair board to lease space for three shows in 2024. If the board declines to do so, Templeton says they’ll be hearing from his attorney.
State Senator Dave Min, who authored the statewide gun show ban and voted in favor of the ban in Ventura County, tells the Ventura County Star that if the board acquiesces to Templeton’s request they may still face a lawsuit; one filed by the state or gun control groups.
The state attorney general’s office has not indicated whether the ruling will be appealed but Min said he expects that challenge to come. He said the bans were a line of defense against the proliferation of guns, arguing the “reckless” ruling could establish dangerous precedents.
“All of the gun laws in California would be challenged, I think,” he said.
All of the gun laws should be challenged in California, I think, but the prohibitions on hosting gun shows are particularly stupid. As Holcomb noted in his decision granting the injunction, the bans not only violate the Second Amendment rights of California residents but also intrude on their First Amendment rights as well.
Here, the Court finds sufficient evidence that SB 264 and SB 915 have a viewpoint discriminatory purpose. Legislative history shows that the goal of the two statutes is to end gun shows in California, and, while the opinions and statements of legislators are not dispositive of viewpoint discrimination, see Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Heath Org., 142 S. Ct. 2228, 2255 (2022) (“This Court has long disfavored arguments based on alleged legislative motives.”), those statements are circumstantial evidence that the statutes disfavor the lawful commercial speech of firearm vendors. In view of the above authorities and evidence, as well as the Orange County Fairgrounds’ status as a limited public forum, the Court concludes that Defendants are engaging in viewpoint discrimination by prohibiting otherwise-lawful gun shows.
Even in his most recent comments Min has made it clear that he has a problem with folks exercising their Second Amendments. When the state senator proclaims that the gun show bans were mean to reduce the “proliferation of guns”, he’s admitting that the goal is to make it as hard as possible for responsible Californians to keep and bear arms.
Gun shows in California operate under the same laws as brick-and-mortar stores, which means that no firearms actually change hands at a gun show. Instead, the buyer has to wait ten days before they can pick up their firearm, during which a background check is completed. That doesn’t matter to Min or his allies in the gun control lobby.
Karen Peters of Thousand Oaks is a leader of the Ventura County chapter of the Brady gun violence prevention group and helped lead the drive for an end to gun shows at the Ventura fairgrounds. She wants the ban to continue.
“Guns are too easily available in our society, and you have to start somewhere,” she said, reflecting on the drive to stop the shows. “That’s what we were trying to do.”
Yes, that is what Karen was trying to do; limit access to a fundamental civil right, and chilling the speech of Second Amendment advocates at the same time.
Ventura County fair officials are almost certain to deny space to Crossroads of the West until a court order compels them to, so we may very well see another lawsuit filed by Templeton and his attorney Tiffany Cheuvront of Michel & Associates before long. As she told the local paper, “It would be reasonable for the Ventura (County) Fair Board to not to continue to defend a law that is enjoined because of its unconstitutionality.” Unfortunately, “reasonable” is a word that can rarely be used to accurately describe the actions of California officials when it comes to guns, and it may very well take another round of litigation for the board to stop discriminating against the Second Amendment community in Ventura County.