Crossroads gun shows to continue through rest of 2018 at the OC Fairgrounds
By JIM MATTHEWS
The Crossroads of the West gun shows at the Orange County fairgrounds will continue through the rest of 2019 after the Fair Board approved the remaining three gun shows for 2018 at its Thursday meeting this past week, thanks largely to overwhelming support for the gun show from California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and National Rifle Association (NRA) members who attended the event and bombarded the board members with phone calls and e-mails prior to the event.
The vote was 5-1 to continue the shows, with board member Ashleigh Aitken the only dissenting vote. Aitken, a local attorney, dissented because she didn’t think the board had received all of the information on Crossroads owner’s legal eligibility to host the shows that it had requested at the last meeting, according to the Daily Pilot newspaper. However, Rick Travis, executive director of the CRPA, said Aitken is staunchly anti-gun and planning on running for mayor of Anaheim with gun control a major tenant of her platform.
The Fair Board placed the item on its agenda last month when concerns about whether Crossroads ownership should have been granted a “certificate of eligibility” to operate the gun shows when it was given information that showed Del Mar Fairgrounds chief executive Tim Fennell sent a letter to the state Department of Justice in May this year asking for an investigation over allegations that Crossroads of the West founder Bob Templeton and his son, Jeff, “have felony convictions for federal firearms violations that could prevent them from organizing gun shows in California,” according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Daily Pilot reported that Bob Templeton told the Orange County Fair Board last month that his daughter, Tracy Olcott, is the general manager of the operation and holds the required certificate of eligibility. In an email provided Thursday, Olcott added that Jeff Templeton is not involved in producing the Orange County shows so the allegations are moot.
Josh Caplan, OC Fairground counsel, received documentation showing that Olcott currently holds a certificate of eligibility.
“I have not seen any documents from the [state] Bureau of Firearms to suggest that Ms. Olcott’s license is not valid,” said Caplan, according to the Daily Pilot story.
Travis said there is more to the story. He said the CRPA has discovered that two anti-gun organizations have been working diligently to close down all the Crossroads gun shows held across California and throughout the West as part of their anti-gun agenda, trying to discredit the Templetons and Olcott and asking Fair Boards across the state to reconsider their leases and policy on gun shows. Everytown for Gun Safety, founded and funded by billionaire and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with its sister organization, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, are behind this effort. Everytown also contributes to political campaigns that support its anti-gun cause, with over $600,000 donated since it was founded in 2014.
All county fair boards are appointed by the governor for four-year terms, frequently staying on much longer unless they resign or the governor appoints a new person at the end of their term. Aitken has been on the Orange County Fair Board since 2012, two years past the end of her appointed term.
The Fair Board vote on Thursday, however, will allow Crossroads of the West to stage the remaining three gun shows contracted for 2018 at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The dates for those events are Aug. 18-19, Oct. 6-7, and Nov. 24-25. The rental contracts of the three remaining shows have a combined value of about $278,000.
But the victory is far from complete, said Travis. He said that board chairwoman Barbara Bagneris said the panel will have a “broader policy discussion about gun shows” during its August 23 meeting.
Travis said this still means that board could vote to end the hosting of gun shows at the Orange County Fairgounds once this year’s contract with Crossroads ends. Between now and then, Bagneris has scheduled a board tour of the August gun show prior to that “broader discussion about gun shows” at its August meeting.
Travis called the effort to end the gun shows and its rationale, “ridiculous.” He said “there is no documentable evidence any of the people who committed these mass shootings purchased guns at a California gun show, so there was no need to do away with them or further regulate them.”
In California, vendors at gun shows have to follow the same stringent guidelines for firearms and ammunition sales that have to be followed by all other licensed gun dealers in the state. Purchasers face the same waiting periods and background checks.
Banning gun shows would be like banning malls because there is a collection of ‘stores’ under one roof. The gun show is a collection of firearm shops under one roof, giving gun collectors, shooters, people interested in learning about self-defense, firearms safety, and shooting instruction a one-stop ‘mall’ for their all interests relating to firearms.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 909-887-3444.