San Francisco Chronicle: Stop the gun shows at the Cow Palace

May 22, 2018

By the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board

The communities living near the Cow Palace, the enormous state-owned exhibition hall in Daly City, overwhelmingly want the venue to stop hosting gun shows. The state Legislature has previously passed legislation designed to stop the shows.

Yet the shows go on — five times a year.

The latest failure to curb the gun shows was in 2013. That year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill from Mark Leno, then a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, that would’ve allowed the gun shows only if they were authorized by county officials, who were opposed to them.

Since then, California voters have passed some of the country’s strictest gun control legislation, including registration requirements and new regulations on ammunition.

This year has also brought a tragic string of school shootings, including last week’s massacre of 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

So state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and state Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, are trying again.

On Monday, surrounded by local students, the two legislators announced a new bill, SB221. It will ban the sale of guns and ammunition at the Cow Palace.

“We should not have gun shows in the heart of the Bay Area,” said Wiener in a statement. “The Cow Palace gun shows should have ended a long time ago. Better late than never.”

The reasons previous efforts have failed are complex.

The Cow Palace has a history of financial struggle and troublesome events.

During the state’s last major downturn, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger considered selling it; the state Legislature nearly passed a bill to unload it. In 2010, two people died and many others were hospitalized after consuming drugs at a rave in the Cow Palace. The disaster cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in law enforcement and medical costs, some of it borne by taxpayers.

Compared with these difficulties, the gun shows offer easy money and a calm way for the Cow Palace to meet its financial obligations.

Show organizers also rightly contend that they are obeying regulations and offering a legal service.

But the community deserves a say, too, and Bay Area residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the shows. The state Legislature should heed their concerns, and so should the governor.

Read the op-ed here on the San Francisco Chronicle website