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City should end relationship with gun show

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On Oct. 23 and 24, the taxpayer-funded Las Cruces Convention Center will be used once again to pump more guns onto the streets of Las Cruces and southern New Mexico.

Those are the dates of the Sunrise Lions Club 2022 Semi-Annual Gun and Crafts Show, which takes place every spring and fall. Before delving into that event, I’d like to take a moment to praise Lions Clubs.

The only “club” I’ve ever belonged to as an adult was the Royal Gorge Lions Club in Canon City, Colorado, so I’m well aware of the good work that they do. The Sunrise Lions Club operates a summer camp for deaf children; provides eye exams and glasses for the needy; and funds scholarships at NMSU, among its many philanthropic activities.

Our club in Colorado ran the concessions stand at the adult softball field every summer. I’m sure we didn’t make as much money as the Sunrise Club does, but we never had to worry that one of our hotdogs would fall into the wrong hands.

The term “gun show” is misleading. People go to car shows to look at cars. People go to gun shows to buy guns. For most of the local gun show’s history, that included guns sold without a background check. State law passed in 2019 finally ended that practice; except, of course, in the parking lot.

The recent school shooting in Texas, coming so soon after the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., has rekindled the same sense of hopeless frustration I get every time I hear these same stupid arguments being repeated.

I gave up after Sandy Hook. The slaughter of elementary school students in 2012 has only resulted in a loosening of gun laws and an explosion of gun sales in the years since, especially the sale of military-style weapons and ammunition whose sole purpose is to kill people.

The Las Cruces City Council certainly must understand that sense of hopelessness. The state Legislature recently passed a law preventing people from bringing guns into the Roundhouse, but we still have an old law on the books preventing local governments from banning people from bringing guns to their meetings.

There isn’t a heck of a lot the city can do. City council members were considering a non-binding, advisory vote several years ago when the meeting drew enough armed protesters for a Central American coup.

Moving the gun show out of the convention center would be a token gesture. The Lions Club would find a private facility to hold the event, and the show would continue pouring weapons onto our streets. But at least the city wouldn’t be culpable.

Walter Rubel is a freelance journalist based in Las Cruces. His 40-plus-year career includes work in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and— since 2002 — in New Mexico, covering Las Cruces and the state Legislature. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Las Cruces Bulletin. Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.