By Ted AYALA
The future of gun shows at the Glendale Civic Auditorium is looking shakier after the Glendale City Council voted on Tuesday to direct city staff to explore a possible ban on such gun shows on city property. The ban, which would effectively end the long-running Glendale Gun Show that has been held since its inception at the civic auditorium, was pushed by Councilmember Rafi Manoukian in reaction to the recent Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“Is it time to be proactive? Yes, it’s time to be proactive,” said Manoukian in reference to the ordinance. “My belief is [to not have gun shows] on city property and across the street from our college.”
Councilmember Laura Friedman was quick to add that the ordinance would not ban gun shows outright.
“None of [this] would prohibit this gun show from moving to a private venue within Glendale,” she said. “If they wanted to go to the [Glendale] Hilton or any other large space, they could still do that.”
“This is a public policy issue,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa. “The decision before [council] is the use of public property. Not as a regulator of people’s rights, but as a lessor of public property – is that appropriate use? That‘s really as far as this discussion has to go.”
Glendale’s move to ban gun sales on city property come at a sensitive time in debate on national policy when, for the first time since the 1990s, public opinion has been moving towards tightening gun control.
Crowding the council dais were nearly 100 gun supporters as well as many vociferous gun control proponents.
“The gun show takes place across the street from Glendale Community College, where we have about 20,000 students annually and is primarily a venue for the sale of cheap ammunition,” said Vahé Paroomian, a member of the college’s board of trustees. “This is worse than playing with fire and it is, in fact, a safety issue. This is akin to placing a powder keg next to a furnace and wondering why there was an explosion.”
“The right to possess a firearm is a constitutional right,” countered Don Dunham. “To limit the options to one or two places is to limit the right to possess [them]. I’ve never heard a good reason for [this] ban. Is buying a gun from a federally-licensed arms dealer at the gun show, which is the only way you can buy a firearm, all of a sudden going to make me commit a crime with the gun? The logic here must be that someone merely owning an inanimate object is going to suddenly commit a crime they would not otherwise commit.
“A gun doesn’t make you who you are; it does not force you to do what you would otherwise not do.”
“The idea that gun shows are unregulated or are somehow dangerous is at best disingenuous, at worst a lie,” said Paul Norberg. “It’s a fallacy. Banning gun shows has proven to be difficult.”
Echoing that statement were warnings from the National Rifle Association threatening the city with lawsuits if it proceeds with the ban.
In addition, there are questions as to how the civic auditorium will make up the income shortfall if the city bans the show. In 2012, the gun show generated 13% of the venue’s annual income. A city report projects revenue from the show to be approximately $57,000 in 2013.
Manoukian did press the council to not enact a ban before the March show saying it would not be “proper” to do so. Councilmember Ara Najarian urged the council to table discussion on the ban until after the March show, though he was voted down by his colleagues.
Before the vote, Freidman pressed Police Chief Ron de Pompa to state whether there was a correlation between public safety and gun shows – which the police chief denied.
“We have not found any correlation [between crime] and the gun show,” he said. “The problem is more with society and with the massive amount of guns already available. But the symbolic message [this ordinance] would send is important.”