Yesterday, 37th District State Senate Candidate Dave Min sent us a press release stating his desire to ban Crossroads of the West gun shows from the Orange County Fairgrounds & Event Center, should he be elected in 2020 (he’s running against Republican John Moorlach). At the same time he sent us that release, he also posted the statement to his campaign Facebook page, which quickly drew a response from OC Fair Board member (and fellow Democrat) Ashleigh E. Aitken.
While not disagreeing with the general philosophy behind Min’s suggestion, she did take issue with his method and characterization of gun shows at the fairgrounds. Here’s what Aitken had to say to Min:
I respond as a proud member of the OC Fair Board, and was surprised to see your press release. As someone who has questioned this very policy for years, I feel the need to clarify some of your mischaracterizations, so the public is not misinformed. 1. The OC Fairground Board has agendized this issue 3-4 times in the past several years, most recently last year, as have other state fair boards. I have never seen you, as a Congressional candidate, state senate candidate or private citizen, support me or the board on this issue. Not once. 2. The gun show loophole does not exist in California. No citizen can purchase a firearm at the gun show and walk off property with it. The purchases are subject to the same background checks and waiting periods as any other store purchase. 3. The operator of this gun show is not an alleged felon (an allegation that is unnecessarily inflammatory) and all proper paperwork is on file with the state.* 4. For clarity, I have worked very hard on this issue and reached out to groups like Moms Demand Action, and the response was that California’s legal gun shows are not a priority, as our state has the strictest gun laws in the country. When hundreds of NRA members shared their opinions and spoke out at our meetings, your voice would have been welcomed. 5. I am happy to have you as a new ally on this issue, and welcome you to your first public fair board meeting (4th Thursday of the month, as always). In the meantime, it’s the last week of the OC Fair. Have a corn dog.
The corn dog line was an especially nice touch, but Min wasn’t having it. Here’s his response to Aitken:
Ashleigh, you and I both know that if we want to end gun shows at the OC Fairgrounds, this won’t happen without significant public pressure and possibly direct state legislative action. That is why I am calling on the Governor and State Legislature to intervene. There are no mischaracterizations here and this post is not about you, nor is it about me. I hope you will welcome and support our efforts.
Aitken then fired back:
I don’t disagree with your recent efforts or your position, I just wish you wouldn’t attack a group of Democratic volunteers on the Fair Board to do it. We are all on the same team. Please acknowledge: 1) that some Fair Board members also led efforts to stop the gun shows; 2) did not authorize an alleged felon to operate a gun show; and 3) do not prioritize a contract or profits over the lives of children and the community. Your fellow Dems are not the problem.
And that’s where the exchange ended. Too bad, too–we would have loved a few more fair food jokes.
* While true, Min is clearly referring to Crossroads President Bob Templeton, who pleaded guilty to a felony firearms charge back in 1980. News of Templeton’s conviction did cause consternation for the Del Mar fairgrounds board last year. But Templeton said his daughter Tracy Olcott, who does not have any felony convictions, runs the gun shows and signs all the contracts. The state Department of Justice has also issued the company eligibility licenses to run the gun shows.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.