Gavin Newsom speaks, but with credibility?

Gavin Newsom (who would like to ban dogs based solely on their breed) never seems to run out of crazy ideas.

As Clayton Cramer documents in a post titled "San Francisco's Mayor Newsom Decides To Punish Illegal Acts By Criminalizing Legal Acts," Newsom wants to ban gun shows at the Cow Palace -- not because illegal gun sales occur there, but because (claims Newsom) illegal sales occur in the parking lot. There's a problem for Newsom, though. The Cow Palace isn't in San Francisco. So he wants a state law passed ending gun shows at the Cow Palace. Presumably, he thinks he has power beyond his jurisdiction, based on his say so.


Let me get this straight: what's happening in the Cow Palace is legal--background checks are being run, people who can't legally buy guns are prevented from buying them. What is happening in the parking lot is illegal--people are buying and selling guns without background checks, waiting periods, etc. So the city needs to shut down the lawful activity?

I'm sure that Mayor Newsom thinks that if the gun shows didn't happen at the Cow Palace, there would be no illegal gun sales going on in the Cow Palace parking lot. He's probably right. But they would certainly be taking place elsewhere in San Francisco. So which is it easier for the police to do? Look for unlawful transfers in one relatively small place (the Cow Palace parking lot), or the entire city of San Francisco?

My recollection of the Cow Palace parking lot suggests that a few police officers on top of the surrounding buildings with spotting scopes could see situations that undercover officers could rapidly respond to, and catch unlawful transfers as they take place, or shortly after they have taken place. Video footage through zoom lens in combination with actually catching people in possession of firearms would be sufficient to get convictions, and because this is all in a public place, there's no basis for claiming that the criminals were having their rights to privacy violated, or that there was a requirement for a search warrant.

If you can see some sort of covert or semicovert transaction taking place in the parking lot, this would seem like probable cuse to search the participants for the items that were exchanged.

The gun shows at the Cow Palace are making it easier for the police to enforce the existing law, by bringing criminals together into the parking lot. A sensible elected official (unlike Mayor Newsom) would regard this as a benefit of the gun show, not a problem. But this is really more about appearing tough on guns rather than about doing something about San Francisco's violent crime problem.

To that I'd add that I went to countless gun shows at the Cow Palace back in the 90s, and I talked to many, many gun dealers and individual patrons. The parking lot was crawling with BATF agents, and it would have been the last place in the world that anyone in his right mind would have attempted an illegal sale. BATF agents would actually solicit illegal sales, and the gun dealers and their customers were well aware of it. If you wanted to get in trouble with the BATF fast, the parking lot of a gun show was probably the best place to do it.

Is it possible that things have changed over the past few years, and that the BATF, California State Police and the local San Mateo County police have decided to turn a blind eye on anything that goes on right outside a well-known gun show on the outskirts of one the most anti-gun cities (in one of the most anti-gun states) in the United States?

Possible, but I doubt it.

I wish I was in the area, because I'd like to ask some of the dealers.

Looking further into this, it appears that Newsom and his gun-grabbing pals have no direct evidence of sales occurring in the parking lot:

San Francisco political leaders Thursday called for the end of gun shows at the Cow Palace, saying the shows on state-owned property are effectively turning California into "a merchant of tools of death."

Standing in the parking lot of the indoor arena, District Attorney Kamala Harris, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Police Chief Heather Fong and Assemblyman Mark Leno said the shows - including Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which comes to the palace Saturday and Sunday - are directly contributing to the proliferation of illegal guns and spiking homicide rates in San Francisco.

They admitted to having no direct proof, but said they have heard countless stories from neighbors about guns - including AK47s and sawed-off shotguns - being illegally sold in the adjacent public housing developments and in the arena's parking lot during the gun shows.

Frankly, based on what I know about the place, I don't believe it. While I don't doubt that guns are sold in the public housing development, I'm wondering about the credibility of the unverified stories implicating the gun show. The guns shows are crawling with cops, because no one wants trouble.

I also see that the shows in question are run by Crossroads of the West, still run by Bob Templeton, whom I got to know quite well.

Bob Templeton, president of the Utah-based Crossroads of the West Gun Show, disputed that claim, saying he has asked officials with the Daly City Police Department, Cow Palace management and the California Department of Justice whether they know of any illegal gun sales that have ever taken place at the shows. They all said no, according to Templeton.

Templeton added that the show has come to the arena for 23 years, and there have never been any arrests or charges filed against anybody for selling illegal guns there. He added that two uniformed Daly City police officers are always stationed at the show and that the show is monitored by the Gun Show Task Force, part of the state Justice Department that was created seven years ago by state legislation.

"It's distressing when politicians, for their own ends, make charges like these. These are simply allegations made by people who don't like guns," he said.

"We are selling guns to people who are hunters, outdoorsmen, law enforcement people and honest, law-abiding citizens," he said, noting that all purchasers go through mandatory background checks and are subject to 10-day waiting periods.

I'm smelling a rat here. Is there any way to verify what Newsom says? Or is he just reciting fourth hand hearsay from self-appointed activists like Shawn Richards?
Shawn Richards, director of Brothers Against Guns, said people during the gun shows drive through the public housing developments near the arena, including Sunnydale, and illegally hawk weapons to residents. They also illegally sell weapons in the parking lot of the arena itself, he said.
Did Richards witness this? Did anyone call the cops? Why should I believe it? Richards, BTW, is described as an "Ex-gang member (a few), ex-con (3 years in the state penitentiary), ex-dealer and current God Of The Projects." (And he's also said to be a former gun dealer who now complains that gun shows are "disrespectful" and "a slap in the face.")

A look at some of the "facts" Richards recites here hardly inspires, um, confidence:

Yee: Assault rifles -- they're hitting the streets in alarming numbers. Shawn Richards, founder of Bruthas Aginst Guns, is pretty clear where they're coming from.

Richards: All over. Different world countries. China, Phillipines, Mexico. They comin' in. And they comin' in off these tankers.

[cut to cargo tanker in SF Bay]

Yee: Tankers Richards can see from his Hunter's Point apartment. The projects, where doors are guarded with metal bars, windows boarded with plywood, and neighbors shoot neighbors.
[Is she TRYING to make people laugh with that comment?]
Yee: Yesterday, reportedly with a high-powered weapon.

Cheko Wells (of B.A.G.):The shooting..that happens, you know, folks with a high-powered rifle scoping down on each other, that's..that's a whole nother game. I'm like, whoah.

Then they cut to the gun-store scene of an AR with detachable 30-round mag and comment how these guns are in the hands of criminals for a couple hundred bucks in just a couple of hours.

And then this gem from Richards, the Bayview's role model for anti-gunners, in his message for kids:

Cuz at the end of the day, somebuddy's goin to jail and somebuddy's gonna be deyud, if they don' handle they bizness correctly.

Another piece of journalistic excellence from the local press. Woohoo.

A man who says "tankers" are unloading "assault weapons" from all over the world, which are then sold in gun stores? Putting aside the fact that they're illegal in California, I don't think this is a credible source.

But I guess if you're Gavin Newsom and the issue is guns, who needs credibility?

posted by Eric on 08.10.07 at 06:27 PM


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