Students are walking out of school on March 14, 2018, to protest the deaths of students and others from gun violence. While Los Angeles County bans gun shows, Orange County allows gun shows. The Crossroads of the West gun show takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC), also known as the OC Fairgrounds, several times a year and is a steady source of over $300,000 in annual facility use revenue in addition to parking and concessions revenues. About a year ago, OCFEC closed for the weekend because the Make America Great Again rally announced that they would hold their unpermitted rally near Fair Drive and Fairview Road on the same weekend as the Crossroads of the West gun show, which caused the cancellation of the gun show for that weekend. The irony is the gun show caused their own cancellation because they agreed to host the Make America Great Again rally without permission to do so. The gun show was allowed to reschedule the date of the show which was cancelled due to their own actions.
A recent trip to the gun show raises questions about the conduct of the show including:
- Photography and video recording are prohibited.
- A list of of sellers is not available.
- A "pentagon AR-15 coupler" which attaches five ten-round magazines to an AR-15 was for sale. This apparently legal workaround allows up to fifty rounds to be fired in quick succession. The video linked to is for illustrative purposes only.
- Several gun show sellers specialize in AR-15 weaponry and accessories.
- It is not clear if a person is able to obtain the parts needed to assembly an AR-15 from the sellers at the gun show.
- Booths do not have signs with the name of the business at each and every booth and not all booths had marketing materials or business cards with the business name and contact information.
- A number of sellers do not match to a list of Costa Mesa business licenses although a Costa Mesa business license is required to conduct business at OCFEC. See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter I to learn more about business license requirements. A Costa Mesa business license allows sales tax generated at OCFEC to be paid to the City of Costa Mesa, Orange County, and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), among other agencies. OCTA uses the M1 and M2 OC Go sales tax increments to fund transportation improvements.
- Pawn shops which are called "second hand dealers" in statute are among the sellers. Pawn shops/ second hand dealers need permission from the Costa Mesa Police Department to operate in Costa Mesa. See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter II, Article 12 to learn more about business license requirements for pawn shops/ second hand dealers.
- A man was observed pushing a hand truck with a box of ammunition for sale throughout the show for several hours. He was holding a handwritten cardboard sign asking people to purchase items from his box. There was less product in the box later in the day than at the beginning of the day.
Reform of gun laws is outside the jurisdiction of the OCFEC Board but the Board can require changes to be made in the way all public events are conducted on the property. Shows open to the public, with free or paid admission, should publish a list of all sellers and exhibitors at the event. The list should state the business name, mailing address, phone number, and email to allow sellers and exhibitors to be contacted outside of the show. Show promoters should be required to have the list available at the show and the information should be kept on file by the OCFEC staff to be provided to the public. One simple change to enhance transparency and accountability which is within the grasp of the OC Fair Board is a step in the right direction.
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