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California Officials Ban Gun, Ammo Sales on County Land

By Jeffrey L. Rabin

Over the vocal objections of some gun owners, a divided Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday banned the sale of guns and ammunition on all county property, a move aimed at driving the nation’s largest gun show from the county fairgrounds.

The decision on a 3-2 vote came two weeks to the day after a white supremacist allegedly fired an semiautomatic weapon into the North Valley Jewish Community Center in the city’s Granada Hills district wounding three children, a teen-age camp counselor and a receptionist. The alleged gunman, Buford O. Furrow Jr., told authorities he later shot and killed a postal worker delivering mail in a nearby San Fernando Valley neighborhood.

The shootings, the latest in a spring and summer of deadly rampages across the country, sparked demands for tougher gun control laws and tighter regulation of weekend gun shows.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky pressed for passage of the ordinance that bans the sale of guns and ammunition on all county property, including county buildings, beaches, parks, and the fairgrounds in Pomona, a city east of Los Angeles. “The biggest gun show in the United States is held right here in this county on land owned by the taxpayers of this county,” he said.

Yaroslavsky remarked that some of the illegal automatic weapons possessed by the gunmen who engaged in a fierce firefight with police outside a bank in North Hollywood two years ago were traced back to the Pomona show. “Enough is enough,” he said. “The time has come to put an end to this.”

Karl Amelang, president of Great Western Shows, which operates four gun shows a year at the fairgrounds, sharply criticized Yaroslavsky’s approach. He told the board the show and its 2,000 exhibitors “will be severely damaged by this demagoguery.”

He vowed to file suit to challenge the ordinance, which is expected to take effect before the next Pomona gun show in October. “Instead of addressing the underlying causes for the unfortunate assaults by twisted minds on innocent victims,” Amelang said, “this motion is a thinly veiled attempt to destroy the constitutional rights of a legal entity.”

County Sheriff Lee Baca called on the supervisors to halt the sale of weapons and ammunition on county property. A former Marine and member of the National Rifle Association, Baca said: “Unfortunately, in this country we have a gun industry that hides behind the Second Amendment,” said the sheriff. Baca testified while flanked by the local head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobcaao and Firearms and a representative of the California Attorney General’s office.

The proposal to ban the sale of guns and ammunition drew gun control advocates and gun owners, who demanded that their constitutional right to keep and bear arms be protected. The board’s vote to approve the ban was greeted with boos and chants of “shame on you.”

“Gun shows are the breeding grounds for the birth of violence in our society,” said sister Una Connolly, who works with gang youths in the San Fernando Valley who, she said, boast that they easily can obtain high-powered weaponry.