DEL MAR, Calif. — At the entrance to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a young woman wearing an orange anti-gun violence shirt played a flute while, across the street, two men waved a 5-foot-tall cutout of a black AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at passing cars.
That was the kind of contrast visible Saturday morning to all those who attended the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which was scheduled to draw thousands of firearm enthusiasts this weekend.
The show is at a critical moment. While the nine-member fair board is allowing Crossroads to finish its five-show run this year, it will decide in September whether to allow it to return in 2019.
Community backlash to the nation’s never-ending string of mass shootings has put Crossroads and other gun shows in the crosshairs, and the crowd of protesters on the corner of Via De La Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard Saturday lined up to keep the pressure on, waving signs replete with gun violence statistics and pleas for tighter control of firearms sales.
Meanwhile, the San Diego County Gun Owner’s group has accused activists of misleading the public about how business gets done at Crossroads. This week the group offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove what it says are constant insinuations that the show doesn’t always adhere to California gun sale laws, which require a 10-day waiting period and a mandatory background check for each sale.