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Gun show protesters see door open on ban

Amanda Wilcox
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

SAN FRANCISCO – The mother of one of the victims slain during a Nevada County shooting rampage two years ago may utilize a Tuesday federal court ruling to try to keep gun shows out of Nevada County.

Amanda Wilcox, mother of Laura Wilcox, 19, who was slain during a Nevada County shooting spree on Jan. 10, 2001, was delighted upon learning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld an Alameda County ordinance banning gun shows on government property, such as fairgrounds.

“You’ve brought us good news,” Wicox said after learning that the three-judge panel acquiesced to circuit precedent and reluctantly upheld the Alameda ordinance.



In dismissing a challenge to the Alameda ordinance, the panel ruled that gun enthusiasts had neither a First Amendment nor Second Amendment right to possess weapons for sale on county property.

The decision, if it survives appeal, is expected to lead to an avalanche of similar ordinances across California, the nation’s only state where municipalities have barred gun shows on government property. Los Angeles County and others already have adopted similar ordinances.




Asked if she and her husband Nick are pondering such an ordinance, Amanda Wilcox said, “We have thought of it, but we were waiting for this. We’re interested.”

The Wilcoxes and supporters protested a gun show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in February 2002, just a year after their daughter’s death. It went on despite those protests.

Right after that show, seller John Crabtree of Grass Valley and show principal Larry Urrutia of Maxwell City in Colusa County were hit with gun charges in Nevada County Superior Court – Crabtree for selling a pair of assault rifles with grenade launchers attached and Urrutia for allowing them to be taken out the door of the show. Crabtree was convicted of a misdemeanor gun charge and Urrutia of a gun law infraction late in 2002. Also late in 2002, controversial documentary-filmmaker Michael Moore screened his then-new and subsequently successful “Bowling For Columbine,” an anti-gun film, in Nevada City.

Moore has a sister in the Grass Valley-Nevada City area and dedicated the film to three people who died of gunshot wounds, including Laura Wilcox.

Shortly after that, Urrutia suspended plans for a February 2003 gun show when he realized the Wilcoxes and their supporters would not support such an event.

However, Urrutia has previously said that another gun show here is possible in 2004. He was not available for comment Tuesday.

Urrutia bowed out for the February 2003 gun show just before hearings with the fair board were held. In previous interviews, he said “it’s not that we’re intimidated at this time. There’s just a certain amount of hassle up there…. Your community needs to have some peace. It’s not that big a problem for us to pull out.”

Urrutia’s Guntraders U.S. firm will hold a gun show in Yuba City March 1 and 2, according to his voice mail.

Nevada County Fair CEO Ed Scofield said he didn’t know if the fair board would consider another gun show but couldn’t summarily dismiss a request if one came up.

“If someone submitted an application, Scofield said the board would hold public hearings before making a decision to hold any subsequent gun shows.

Wilcox’s alleged gunman, Scott Thorpe, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to her killing and the shooting deaths of Pearlie Mae Feldman, 68, a caregiver shot at the county’s Behavioral Health Department in Nevada City and Mike Markle, 24, at Lyons Restaurant in Grass Valley a short while later. He entered the same plea to attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting two others. A March 25 trial date has been scheduled.

Staffer Doug Mattson contributed to this story.


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