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Cow Palace gun show ban vetoed again [Updated]

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Governor has vetoed a similar ban in the past

The exterior of the Cow Palace. Photo by Joseph Sohm

Update, 9.28.18: Governor Brown vetoed SB 221, the second time he’s blocked an attempt to exorcise gun shows from the Cow Palace.

San Mateo lawmakers want to do away with the regular expos, but because the state owns the Cow Palace they lack the authority without the consent of the legislature and of Brown, who appears to be quite firmly against the idea.

In a statement Friday, SB 221 author State Senator Scott Wiener said he was “deeply disappointed” by the veto.

Since Brown is nearing the end of his final term as governor (for real this time), it’s likely the ban proposal will surface again in the future.


The California Senate passed a bill Thursday that would ban gun shows at the Cow Palace, putting a stop to the five-times-a-year firearms festivities at the venue.

The bill, SB 221, was the work of Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting, both of San Francisco.

It reads, in part:

This bill would, on and after January 1, 2020, prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Cow Palace located in District 1-A, as specified, and would thereby make a violation of that prohibition a misdemeanor. The bill would exclude from its provisions a gun buy-back event held by a law enforcement agency.

Notwithstanding any other law, no officer, employee, operator, or any lessee [...] may contract for, authorize, or allow the sale of any firearm or ammunition on the property or in the buildings that comprise the Cow Palace property in San Mateo County and the City and County of San Francisco.

The Crossroads of the West gun show lists the Cow Palace on its traveling rotation, with dates presently listed for September and November of 2018 and for January, April, and June of 2019.

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The show’s site claims that it annually attracts “more than half a million guests, more than any other gun show in America.”

But SB 221’s authors claim that the gun shows are unpopular locally.

“[We] sent a message to residents near the Cow Palace that we hear them loud and clear. They don’t want gun shows in their neighborhood,” Ting said in a Thursday press release.

Nobody at Crossroads of the West was immediately available for comment. [Update: Crossroads of the West manager Rob Templeton alleges via email that gun shows remain popular in the Bay Area despite criticism and predicted that Brown will veto the bill. “We plan to continue providing a place for law-abiding citizens to gather for many years to come,” Templeton predicted.]

In a statement to lawmakers, Crossroads organizers argued that “If the bill is enacted, the annual revenue decline to the Cow Palace from lost gun show leases, parking and related revenues will be more than $730,000, and that the annual loss in sales tax revenue would exceed $600,000.”

Senate analysis of the bill notes that since the Cow Palace is owned by the California Department of Agriculture, San Mateo County could not ban the shows themselves and required state intervention.

Since the Assembly previously passed the gun show ban on a 44-31 vote this week, that leaves it up to Gov. Jerry Brown. A press release from Senator Scott Wiener notes that Brown vetoed a similar Cow Palace gun show ban in the past.