Gun show promoters Russell and Sally Nordyke claim an Alameda County law that restricts gun possession on county property effectively prevents them from holding shows at the fairgrounds. The law was enacted after a 1998 shooting there injured 16 people.
Nine of 11 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals signed onto the mediation order stating, "The panel believes that the parties should attempt to settle this dispute by agreeing on the conditions for holding gun shows at the Alameda County fairgrounds."
Chief Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Judge Ronald Gould dissented, saying they believe mediation would not be fruitful.
The 1999 law generally prohibits bringing guns to or possessing them on county property, but makes an exception for firearms handled by an "authorized participant" so long as the gun is "secured to prevent unauthorized use" when not in the participant's possession.
The Nordykes' lawsuit, filed the same year, claims the measure violates the constitutional Second Amendment right to bear arms by preventing them from holding shows at the fairgrounds.
Last month, a lawyer for the county told the court gun shows could comply with the law if the unloaded firearms brought to the site by authorized gun show operators were secured to a solid base with cables several feet long.
Under questioning from the judges, the Nordykes' lawyer conceded, "I imagine it would be possible to have a gun show that way."
Lawyers from both sides said their clients will participate in the mediation.
In addition to the county proposal that guns in fairgrounds shows could be tethered, state law requires that weapons displayed at shows must be unloaded and made nonfunctional with plastic or nylon straps.