Glendale City Council must stop gun shows at Civic Auditorium
First published as an unsigned editorial
in the Glendale News-Press
May 25, 1999
If the recent shootings on school campuses in Colorado and Georgia did not shock you, perhaps the demonstration by Hoover High students at the Glendale Civic Auditorium did.
Gun violence is a nationwide problem, exacerbated when it occurs on school campuses where innocent young people are being slaughtered by the dozen.
Just nine months ago a 15-year-old Hoover High student was shot and killed in a parking lot after an on-campus brawl.
Last week the U.S. Senate, on a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Al Gore, took some halting, tentative steps to tighten the nation’s gun control laws. The new restrictions are aimed directly at limiting sales at gun shows — just like the one held at the city-owned and operated Civic Auditorium on Sunday.
The new legislation has been called a major victory in the 40-year battle to enact reasonable controls on the sale, possession and use of firearms.
But still, it was only an incremental step, and much more needs to be done on the national, state and local levels to free us all from the tyranny of gun violence.
“We feel now, more than ever, there need to be restrictions on gun shows,” said Hoover High senior Regina Clemente as she protested outside the Glendale gun show.
We absolutely agree.
The Civic Auditorium, however, is a public facility controlled ultimately by the Glendale City Council. Although the council is circumscribed by the Constitution and a large amount of case law in how it can and cannot allow public facilities to be used, there is something it can do — even if it merely expresses its displeasure at allowing gun shows at the facility.
City Manager Jim Starbird said Monday the case law on the use of public facilities is extensive, and limiting their use by unpopular groups has often been deemed unconstitutional.
“It may be that the only basis on which we can exclude certain groups is if the council can find a public safety or public nuisance issue is involved,” Starbird said.
In the larger sense, clearly public safety is involved. Easy access to handguns and assault weapons – as is available at gun shows – is part of the problem, as the Senate’s vote last week clearly demonstrated.
It is not inconceivable that, should it wish, the City Council could develop the legal justification to ban all gun shows from the Civic Auditorium.
And it should make every effort to do so.
In the likely event the City Council cannot muster the political will to ban gun shows from public facilities in town, it should at least adjust the rental fee schedule at the Civic to make it prohibitively expensive for such shows to be staged there.
Not only would this remove from the community one convenient, quick way to get a handgun or assault weapon, it also would send a message to residents that the city is serious about reducing gun violence.
There is no legitimate justification for allowing such easy access to assault weapons – such as those on display and for sale at the Glendale Gun Show – and cheap, unsafe Saturday Night Specials.
The momentum is growing nationwide for legislators at every level to seriously address this problem.
The Glendale City Council must not be left out. As a first step, it should take a leadership role in asserting zero tolerance for gun shows in facilities it owns and operates.
Perhaps a community-wide discussion of the issue could result in a total ban on assault weapon sales within the city limits. This would not be an unwelcome outcome.