Appeals court hears challenge to gun show ban at county fair

Ban passed in 1998; three-judge panel will issue written ruling at later date

A long-running challenge to Alameda County's ban on gun shows at the annual county fair in Pleasanton was back before a federal appeals court in San Francisco Thursday.

Gun show promoters Russell and Sallie Nordyke, of Willows in Glenn County, claim the ban violates their constitutional First Amendment right of free speech and their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Their lawyer, Donald Kilmer, told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, "We are asking to be allowed to hold the traditionally law-abiding gun shows held in the country fair for 10 years."

A three-judge panel took the case under submission after hearing an hour of arguments and will issue a written ruling at a later date.

The ban was passed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 1999, in the wake of a shooting at the 1998 fair in which eight people were injured.

The ordinance prohibits most gun possession on county property, with certain exceptions including possession by peace officers. The Nordykes say the effect of the law is to ban gun shows at the fair.

The Nordykes sued the county in federal court in San Francisco in 1999 and are currently appealing trial court rulings that upheld the law.

The case has already been to the California Supreme Court, which ruled in 2002 that the county measure was not pre-empted by state law, and to the 9th Circuit in an earlier round of arguments in 2003. In 2003, the 9th Circuit said the ban didn't violate the Second Amendment, because, according to the court, the amendment protected only a collective state right and not an individual right to bear arms.

But that reasoning was rejected in a decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court said last year that the Second Amendment applies to individuals. The ruling, known as the Heller case, struck down a Washington, D.C., ban on handgun possession.

The Nordykes say the Heller decision means the Alameda County law should also be overturned.

But Peter Pierce, a lawyer for the county, argued that the Supreme Court ruling left room for local regulations of county property and for gun bans in "sensitive places" such as the fairgrounds.

"The states have historically regulated safety with respect to their own property," Pierce contended.

The Nordykes, whose gun show company is called TS Trade Shows, began presenting shows at the Alameda County fair in 1991.

--Julia Cheever, Bay City News


Like this comment
Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

This is another example of reporters getting 'part' of the story. As Paul Harvey might say.. "This is the rest of the story"!

A private company rents a building.. as about 200 others do each year... and promotes and conducts a gun show. This features guns, accessories, outdoor supplies and hunting trips and vacations. It's a diverse and well attended event.

There is NO gun show at the Alameda County Fair. There is a gun show ON the Alameda County Fairgrounds. There's a big difference.

During the Fair.. there are thousands of people on the Fairgrounds. During a gun show, there might be a few hundred people attending at a time...

That's the part of the story which was probably written to confuse.


Like this comment
Posted by unclehomerr.. redux.
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

After further consideration, I've got to question the authority of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors banning weapons on County property and having that filter down to the Fairgrounds which appears to be [owned?] operated by a private charitable corporation/association. Is there a lawyer in the house??

From the website:

The mission of the Alameda County Fair Association is to assure the long-term viability of the Alameda County Fairgrounds, present an exceptional Annual Fair which celebrates the heritage and diversity of Alameda County, and provide year-round opportunities for facility usage.


The Alameda County Agricultural Fair Association operates the Alameda County Fair. We are a 501(c)3 private, non-profit corporation, and we are responsible for producing the annual Fair as well as other select events.

Other events during the year are produced by outside promoters who rent our facilities. The Alameda County Fair Association staff supervises all events. The Association is completely self-supporting, and receives no funding from tax revenue."

Is it more bad reporting or misapplication of the law??


Like this comment
Posted by Go figure
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jan 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm

It's OK to have festivals and fairs which have no shortage of alcohol, as well as the Alameda County Fair, which promotes gambling, but ban a gun show. Owning a gun is a fundamental right of every American. And don't even play the gun card -- more people are killed by drunk drivers each year.

Like this comment
Posted by beth
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Like I said in an earlier post..but another topic....liberalism is taking over this town that was built on old fashion, conservative principals that respected basic rights....getting a bit too politically correct for me.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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