Ventura County Fair Board Trustees want to speak to lawyers and Governor Gavin Newsom before deciding whether to ban gun shows on state-owned fairgrounds.
Trustees voted at 4-3 Tuesday to schedule a discussion as soon as possible with legal counsel on the liability that could result from ending the controversial gun shows held at the Ventura Fairgrounds for more than a decade. .
They expressed concern over threats of litigation from Crossroads of the West, the gun show operator who won a $ 500,000 settlement in a lawsuit over a ban at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in County of San Diego.
“It’s up to us to know all the facts so that we can do this thing right,” said manager Dan Long. He suggested that the meeting be held in camera.
Director Mike Bradbury noted that equitable board members are appointed by the governor and offered to contact Newsom.
“I think we should also seek the advice of the governor, ask him what he wants his fair members to do,” Bradbury said.
The fair board took several steps ahead of a ban in response to growing pressure from gun control advocates, the gun exposure operator and his customers.
After gun control advocates and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors pushed for a ban in 2018, the board allowed the shows to continue as long as they offered more education to the gun safety.and had all guns wired to surfaces.
Earlier this year, administrators voted to allow a gun show in October, but banned the sale of “ghost weapon” kits, which allow people to make guns without serial numbers.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, after community members again called for a ban, manager Cecilia Cuevas said it was time to make a decision.
“I don’t think we need more talk,” said Cuevas, who supports the end of the shows. “We’ve been discussing this for three years.
Trustees have been warned by exhibition center CEO Barbara Quaid to consider the financial impact of the threat of lawsuits on an exhibition center recovering from the pandemic that canceled the last two fairs.
State Senator Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, and Assembly Member Steve Bennett, D-Ventura, have announced plans for a bill banning gun shows at the exhibition center. Directors discussed the possibility of not taking action until the legislative process is complete.
The strategy may not protect the fair board from liability as expected. Rob Templeton, vice president of Crossroads of the West, said the company would likely sue both the fair’s board and the state if the bill becomes law.
Templeton said the Del Mar lawsuit set a precedent.
“It has already been decided if you can just eliminate gun shows because you don’t like gun shows and you can’t,” he said.
Crossroads has requested dates for at least three gun shows at the fairground next year. Quaid said no decision has been made on the requests.
Bradbury offered the board to consult with lawyers, but rejected a proposal for Long’s amendment that would not have allowed any gun shows to be held at the fairgrounds until the meeting was over.
“I don’t think we should be playing with this at all. We can create accountability for ourselves,” Bradbury said.
Bradbury, Armando Lopez, Leslie Cornejo and Leah Lacayo voted for the motion. Cuevas, Shanté Morgan-Carter and Long voted against.
On Tuesday, the directors also elected current Vice-President Lacayo as chairman of the board for the next two years. Lopez will be the vice-president.
Cornejo, the current chairman of the board, also announced that director Bonnie Weigel tendered her resignation in a closed-door session on Tuesday. Weigel, a director for eight years, said she was frustrated because the board was not working as closely as she wanted to with community members.
Tom Kisken covers health care and other news for the Ventura County Star. Reach it at [email protected] or 805-437-0255.
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