O.C. fairgrounds gun shows resume after judge overturned 2-year ban

Rifles for sale at a Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the O.C. fairgrounds.
A clerk shows off a featureless AR-10 style .308 rifle for sale at a Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the O.C. fairgrounds in 2021.
(Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/Getty Images)

Once at an existential crossroads — after state legislators enacted a ban on the sale of firearms and ammunition on state-owned property, first in Orange County and then statewide — gun shows have returned to the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show reopened to the public on Friday and ran through Sunday, marking a return to the facility and a decades-long tradition at the site, after the last show closed its doors on Nov. 28, 2021.

Its shuttering came on the heels of Senate Bill 264, authored by state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), a prohibition that applied only to Orange County and took effect on Jan. 1, 2022.


A second piece of legislation proposed by Min, Senate Bill 915, enacted a statewide ban that became law in 2023 and applied to most county fairgrounds, which serve as districted agricultural associations under the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture.

Min claimed the bans closed a “legal loophole,” wherein bad actors took advantage of the legal shows to procure firearms and parts for unregistered ghost guns, either through straw sales or theft.

But the plan to put an end to such activities backfired on Oct. 30, when a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction overturning both bills on the grounds they did little to materially restrict people’s access to guns and seemed to constitute an effort to ban all aspects of gun culture.

U.S. District Court Judge John W. Holcomb issued his opinion in response to an August 2022 lawsuit filed by a group of gun advocates led by Crossroads of the West, who claimed the bills infringed upon their constitutional rights to freely associate in public.

Holcomb ordered state officials and lawmakers to restrain themselves from “engaging in, committing or performing, directly or indirectly, by any means whatsoever, any enforcement of” both bills.

He further ordered officials with the Orange County Fair & Event Center, who operate the fairgrounds, to allow organizers of the Utah-based Crossroads of the West to resume scheduling shows at the site.


A Trump-appointed judge on Monday sided with gun advocates and proprietors, who claimed bills restricting gun sales on state-owned property violated their constitutional rights.

Nov. 2, 2023

While OCFEC’s board of directors would not comment on the matter, center spokeswoman Terry Moore confirmed Tuesday promoters approached the organization on Oct. 30, the day of the federal ruling, to start booking dates in 2024.

In addition to this past weekend, for which OCFEC is receiving $123,291, Moore said another show has been tentatively set for around late March.

Min, who was sitting in session in Sacramento on Thursday, maintained there was no solid constitutional basis for Holcomb’s injunction, which is being appealed.

“The evidence is very clear that more guns lead to more gun violence, and this is particularly true of gun shows, where ‘ghost guns,’ which do not require background checks or carry serial numbers are sold and secondary unlicensed transactions between patrons regularly take place,” Min said in a statement.

“I am beyond disappointed that the gun show has temporarily returned to Orange County, but I am confident that this extremist decision will be overturned on appeal.”

Representatives of Crossroads, who did not respond to a request for an interview, are in talks with the OC Fair & Event Center for another event in November and are already seeking to book shows in 2025, Moore confirmed.