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Local Gun Show Bans OK’d in Calif.

April 23, 2002

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Counties and cities in California may prohibit gun shows on their fairgrounds and other public properties, despite state laws that allow such events, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The decision was expected to set off an avalanche of new such ordinances across the state. In briefs submitted to the court, at least 20 cities and counties had urged the justices to allow such bans.

Monday’s 6-1 ruling upheld bans passed in 1999 in Los Angeles and Alameda counties amid concerns that gun shows promoted violence and tarred the area’s public image.

``Alameda County has the authority to prohibit the operation of gun shows held on its property,″ Justice Carlos R. Moreno wrote.

The gun industry argued that local governments are powerless to regulate the industry because the Legislature has authorized gun shows on public property, and the state laws supersede the local ones.

The ruling Monday does not end litigation in the dispute. The justices’ decision on how to apply state law was forwarded to a federal appeals court hearing the two cases.

California’s high court had never before ruled on whether statewide regulation of gun sales leaves room for more restrictive local measures.

A state appeals court overturned San Francisco’s 1982 ban on handgun possession, saying cities and counties cannot write such laws. But in 1998, another appeals court upheld West Hollywood’s ban on cheap handguns known as Saturday Night Specials, which were legal in other parts of the state.

Alameda County outlawed gun possession on county property after a shooting at its fairgrounds in Pleasanton. Los Angeles County issued its ban for its fairgrounds in Pomona as county lawmakers decried gun violence.

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On the Net:

Los Angeles ruling: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S091547.DOC

Alameda ruling: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S091549.DOC

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