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Gun show dropped, averting conflict

Doug Mattson

Saying Nevada County doesn’t need the controversy, the organizer for the county fairgrounds’ annual gun show withdrew his bid Monday to hold another show this winter.

Larry Urrutia’s withdrawal spared an anticipated debate at tonight’s meeting before the Fair Board, which was set to decide on a proposed gun show contract. The move also staved off an anticipated debate on firearms and the show, which was proposed for Feb. 8-9.

Urrutia, a Colusa County rice farmer who’s held several shows here, said resistance from opponents helped spur his decision, though he asked Fairgrounds Executive Director Ed Scofield to reserve a date for a possible 2004 show.

“It’s not that we’re intimidated at this time. There’s just a certain amount of hassle up there,” he said, adding, “Your community needs to have some peace. It’s not that big a problem for us to pull out.”

He claimed hearing from members of an 85-person network prepared to support him at the meeting.

At the same time, a bevy of gun show opponents led by Nick and Amanda Wilcox were ready to speak against the gun show. The couple lost their daughter, Laura, in the Jan. 10, 2001, shootings that killed three people and left four injured.

“In some ways I wish it was going forward because it would bring more dialogue on the issue,” Amanda Wilcox said. “On the other hand, we are emotionally drained, and I suppose it’s fine we don’t have to deal with this.”

The Wilcoxes have called gun shows synonymous with illegal firearms transactions, and they’ve pointed to Urrutia’s show last year.

Urrutia recently was convicted of an infraction, and vendor John Crabtree was convicted of a misdemeanor after Crabtree sold two guns – a pair of assault rifles with grenade launchers – to a buyer who walked out of the exhibition building with them at the last show in February.

Authorities say Crabtree ignored the 10-day waiting period and wasn’t licensed to sell such guns, and that Urrutia allowed the illegal transaction.

Scofield said he received a fax from Urrutia just before 5 p.m. Monday. The executive director had moved tonight’s meeting to the Senior Center to accommodate a larger crowd.

Without the gun show, Scofield said the open February weekend might be used to improve the exhibit building’s restrooms.

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