As Glendale authorities prepare for what could be the last gun show at the Civic Auditorium, they have put extra measures in place to minimize parking and safety impacts.
Extra police officers have been assigned to patrol the exterior of the facility and the neighborhood starting at 6 a.m. Friday, a day before the event is set to begin. The increased patrols will continue throughout both days of the weekend event, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.
The new measures come after attendance at other gun shows in the region have swelled in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and the national gun-control debates that followed.
The Glendale City Council also plans to review an ordinance next month that would ban gun shows from city property. If it passes, this weekend’s gun show would be the last at the auditorium after nearly two decades.
Meanwhile, Occupy Democracy – Pasadena, a local group related to the national Occupy movement, is planning to protest the gun show on Saturday morning.
Although the activists — who have protested at local banks, the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in Pasadena and Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) office — focus mostly on financial issues, the Sandy Hook mass shooting, which claimed the lives of 27 people, prompted the the group to plan the gun show protest.
While gun show supporters say it’s unfair to punish the lawful gun show because of a tragedy that took place across the country, opponents say the city should get out of the business of accommodating gun sales.
Steve Friesen, the gun show’s operator, said he doesn’t plan to make any changes, although it may be the last at the auditorium.
“It’s the same show that I’ve been running for the last 10 years,” Friesen said.
He has been tight-lipped about his thoughts on the potential Glendale ban ever since the City Council instructed officials to draft the language in January.
While other gun shows in the Southland saw high attendance in January, with some people lining up as early as 3 a.m. in Costa Mesa and 5 a.m. in Ontario, Lorenz said enforcement of no-camping rules should prevent similar scenes. In addition, attendees are being asked to park in public lots rather than on residential streets.
A gun show at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in February didn’t attract the extreme early birds as the others and went smoothly, Lorenz said, adding that he hoped the same would occur in Glendale.
The proposal to ban the gun show was reviewed by the council in 2006, but it failed to get traction.
But this year, it seems the tides have turned. Councilman Rafi Manoukian, the main backer of the ban, has the outright support of two others on the dais and a group of community activists has rallied behind his proposal.
Joal Ryan, a founder of the anti-gun show group known as Coalition for a Better Glendale, said the Sandy Hook tragedy encouraged residents who had long opposed the event, but didn’t know how to combat it.
“I think there are these moments for people, something just happens or clicks,” Ryan said. “I think that moment has happened.”