The City Council on Tuesday took the first step toward banning a decades-old gun show at the Civic Auditorium after directing the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would permanently bar the sale of guns on city-owned property.
Despite their desire for the ban, the majority of City Council members also agreed to allow a gun show already on the calendar for March, saying they didn't want to create an immediate financial hit to the event's organizer.
Still, “it’s a small step for what is a national issue,” said Mayor Frank Quintero.
The decision angered more than 100 gun advocates who packed City Hall on Tuesday night to oppose any type of measure that would hinder the gun show, which has historically paid to use the Civic Auditorium across from Glendale Community College as its venue.
Among those on the dais, Councilman Ara Najarian firmly opposed the ban. Councilman Dave Weaver approved moving forward the draft ordinance, but left open the possibility that he may change his mind when it returns for review in February or March.
National Rifle Assn. representatives threatened legal action if the city banned the event, but several gun control advocates said the City Council should not be swayed.
“This is not the time to be driven by fear of lawsuits,” said resident Zanku Armenian. “It’s time to stand up for principles.”
The gun show discussion comes as state and federal lawmakers consider tightening gun regulations in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last month in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders.
Gun show supporters said it’s unfair to lump that tragedy and the Glendale Gun Show into the same category, describing the tri-annual event as a family affair.
Still, Councilman Rafi Manoukian, who suggested the ban in December, said gun shows don’t belong on city property, especially since the Civic Auditorium is across the street from a school.
“It’s time to be proactive,” Manoukian said, adding that the gun show could still operate at a private facility in the city, such as the Hilton Glendale.
Manoukian unsuccessfully pushed a similar ban for gun shows on civic property in 2006, which also attracted widespread criticism from pro-gun groups.
On Tuesday, opponents to the shows cited recent mass shootings, as well as the five shootings at three separate gun shows this past Saturday.
Several gun advocates — some sporting “Save the Gun Show!” stickers — said there’s never been a dangerous or violent incident at the Glendale Gun Show, and noted that California has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country.
“The Glendale Gun Show is not a threat to the city of Glendale,” said Steve Friesen, the event's promoter.
In 2012, three gun shows in Glendale generated about $55,000 in rental and parking revenue, or 13% of the Civic Auditorium’s total income that year.
The show was expected to bring in $57,000 in 2013, according to a city report.