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Rallies surround Glendale gun show held on city property

March 2, 2013 |  2:55 pm

ProtestTensions ran high in Glendale on Saturday as activists protested a gun show held on city property while gun advocates rallied against attempts to ban the event and condemned laws they say threaten their constitutional right to bear arms.  

“We don’t think it is appropriate for our city to be hosting a gun show, which by default it is” by allowing the event to convene at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, said Steve Ryfle, a member of the Coalition for a Better Glendale, which held a news conference to denounce the action. “We think it is a really crass use of a community facility.”

The auditorium is near an elementary school, a park and fields where children play Little League baseball, Ryfle said.

The gun show has been held for at least two decades at the facility, but in January the Glendale City Council ordered the drafting of an ordinance that would permanently prohibit the sale of guns on city-owned property. Officials decided to let Saturday’s event proceed.

The debate over the gun show comes as state and federal lawmakers consider tightening gun regulations after December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders.

Members of the South Central L.A. Tea Party and other gun rights supporters who gathered outside the venue argued that the public should have the right to use a building funded by taxpayer money. They said efforts to stop the gun exhibition would lead to further sanctions on gun owners.

“You give them an inch and they will take a mile,” said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, president of the South Central L.A. Tea Party. He called the push to ban the Glendale gun show “political correctness run amok.”

Peterson said that African Americans in South L.A. were under attack and being run from their homes by illegal aliens armed by drug cartels and that the best way for vulnerable people to protect themselves was to own a gun.  

Ryfle said his group’s focus was “the appropriateness of gun sales on public property” in Glendale. The goal, he said, was to make sure city officials aren’t intimidated by outsiders into reneging on the proposed regulation to halt the gun exhibit.

“We want to keep the pressure on ... to show the City Council this is important to our community,” Ryfle said. “We want to show them that we’ve got their back. We want them to continue what they’ve started.”


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-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: Members of the Coalition for a Better Glendale want a ban on the sale of guns and ammunition on city property. Credit: Coalition for a Better Glendale