Defending the majority of the City Council that voted to ban gun shows on city-owned property, Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero on Tuesday said it was well within the purview of local officials to set guidelines for use of public facilities.
"If we've reached a point where a local jurisdiction cannot decide what goes into their Civic Auditorium and their parks, then we're in sad shape," Quintero said. "The idea that there can't be any control, that you have to just kowtow to the [National Rifle Assn.] and the gun lobby, I disagree."
The National Rifle Assn. and the operator of the Glendale Gun Show have already threatened to sue the city over the ordinance, which they say violates the 1st and 2nd amendments, according to letters sent to the City Attorney's Office.
But the City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to approve the ban before a crowd of about 45 people, noticeably less than the roughly 140 who showed up last week when the ordinance was introduced.
City officials contend that it is a landlord-tenant issue that does not infringe on public right to bear arms, particularly since consumers can still purchase guns from private commercial vendors.
The ordinance blocks the possession or sale of guns at all city parks and facilities, but exempts public right-of-ways, such as sidewalks and streets.
Proponents of the ban say it's an important symbol that shows Glendale does not support activities that can endanger public safety. Opponents say the show has operated for two decades without incident and the ban is a knee-jerk, emotional reaction to a rash of gun violence and mass shootings across the nation.
"It's a philosophical question. There's no right or wrong. It's just a matter of opinion," said Councilman Dave Weaver, who voted against the ban, along with Councilman Ara Najarian.
The ban is set to take effect in 30 days and city officials plan to cancel contracts with the Glendale Gun Show operator, Steve Friesen, who had reserved five more shows through November 2014 at the Civic Auditorium.
In a statement prior to the vote, Friesen referred to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 27 people, including 20 first-graders, dead, saying the event "hit every American hard,” but going after businesses like his is not the answer.
"The tragic events at Newtown hit every American hard, and now we are left asking what can be done to prevent such things from happening again," he wrote. "I don't know all the answers, but I know this: hastily going after and punishing those businesses, organizations and citizens, that are exercising constitutional rights is not the answer."
-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News