A two-day gun and Western Americana show is scheduled for the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa beginning Saturday, despite concern from some people about the event’s timing in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The Crossroads of the West Gun Show — billed as the largest gun show in California — has been held at the fairgrounds for 35 years.
But Bob Templeton, the show’s chief executive, said Thursday that he’s received about a half-dozen calls and emails from groups who say it’s insensitive to have a gun show in light of the Las Vegas shooting that left 59 people — including the gunman — dead and hundreds wounded.
Templeton expressed sympathy for the victims and their families and referred to the shooter, Stephen Paddock, as a “madman.”
“Our entire gun show staff extends our thoughts and our prayers to those who lost loved ones and to those who are being treated for their injuries by Las Vegas’ medical professionals,” Templeton said.
An OC Fair & Event Center spokeswoman said Thursday that the center has received two complaints about the show, one via phone and the other through social media.
Templeton said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will be at the show — as is typical — as a safety precaution and to make sure all sales are aboveboard. He added that the event complies with all California gun laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation.
Templeton said he has no plans to cancel the event, which is set to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“There’s no direct connection to what we’re doing and what happened in Las Vegas, although many people would like to make that linkage,” he said.
About 12,000 people are expected to visit the show. Guests can peruse collections of antique and military-style firearms as well as purchase guns, ammunition and accessories, Templeton said.
“Bump fire” stocks, which Paddock had equipped on semiautomatic rifles in the Las Vegas attack, and automatic weapons are illegal in California and will not be sold at the event, Templeton said.
Bump fire stocks, also known as bump stocks, can be fitted on semiautomatic firearms to make them fire more like fully automatic weapons. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday proposed legislation that would ban the device nationwide.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the group said.
Templeton said “there are two sides to the story on gun control, and perhaps there should be further debate.”
He added, however, that “now is not the time to accommodate those enemies of the Second Amendment who attempt to capitalize on this and every national tragedy which involves guns.”
“Those who advocate regulating, restricting and eventually eliminating the private ownership of firearms in America have wasted no time in voicing their loud and shrill demands for more gun control,” he said.