Citing the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Glendale Councilman Rafi Manoukian this week called for taking steps to ban gun shows at the city’s Civic Auditorium.
It’s an end game he’s tried before, first in 2006, when he unsuccessfully pushed to ban gun shows at the venue outright. But now, gun sales — particularly assault-style weapons — have become a political flashpoint after 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were shot to death last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a lone gunman.
The Glendale Gun Show takes over the Civic Auditorium three weekends a year, raking in tens of thousands of dollars in rental and parking revenue for the city. For 2012, they generated $54,473, according to the city.
“It’s always been on my mind,” Manoukian said after a meeting at City Hall Tuesday. “At this point we have to take a step.”
This time, Manoukian is proposing city officials ban the sale of firearms 1,000 feet from Glendale Community College, which would effectively prohibit gun sales across the street at the auditorium.
With Mayor Frank Quintero in his corner, he has the backing to put the issue on the City Council agenda, but getting majority support for the ban may not be easy.
When he was mayor in 2006, Manoukian tried to prohibit gun sales on at city properties, but the proposal was never able to garner the support needed to bring it up for a vote.
In an interview Wednesday, Councilman Dave Weaver declined to say where he stands on Manoukian’s proposal until after the item gets on the council agenda.
“On the gun show, it’s a revenue source. Is it bad? That’s a personal opinion of each individual,” he said.
However, he said he doesn’t attend gun shows, nor does he think many Glendale Community College students do.
“I think most of the kids that go to the college after school get in the car and drive home,” Weaver said.
The next gun show is scheduled for the weekend of March 2, according to organization’s website.
Councilman Ara Najarian called the suggestion a “superficial” fix, adding he wasn’t convinced that banning a gun show would curb crime.
“Somebody needs to make the connections to me on how banning the gun show…will go toward achieving those goals,” Najarian said after the city meeting.
Still, he described gun violence as a “big issue” that needs to be addressed by multiple angles.
A group of California lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a series of proposals in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, including tougher gun permits, background checks for anyone who wants to buy bullets and closing a loophole in the state's assault weapons ban.
Councilwoman Laura Friedman declined to comment on Manoukian’s proposal.
But Steve Friesen, a Glendale Gun Show spokesman, said in an email that while “our hearts are broken over the tragedy” in Connecticut, his organization “has been promoting gun shows in Glendale for more than two decades.” All transactions, he added, are in compliance with local, state and federal laws.
The gun show tends to feature antiques and collectibles rather than military-style weapons, according to the 2006 city report. Still, the report also states that banning gun sales on city-owned properties would send a message that Glendale “will not in any way contribute to the possibility that a firearm sold or possessed on city property may be used to commit a crime.”
Manoukian will have to bring the proposal to City Hall once again in January, when Quintero will likely provide the backing needed to get the proposal on the agenda.
“I think the time has come for this country to reexamine easy access to guns,” Quintero said.
-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News