The Glendale City Council took the first step toward banning a decades-old gun show at the Civic Auditorium, directing the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would permanently bar the sale of guns on city-owned property.
Despite their desire for the ban, however, the majority of City Council members also agreed to allow a gun show already on the calendar for March, saying that they didn't want to create an immediate financial problem for the event's organizer.
The decision angered more than 100 gun advocates who packed City Hall on Tuesday night to oppose any measure that would hinder the gun show, which has historically paid to use the Civic Auditorium across from Glendale Community College as its venue.
Councilman Ara Najarian firmly opposed the ban. Councilman Dave Weaver approved moving forward with the draft ordinance, but left open the possibility that he may change his mind when it returns for review in February or March.
Representatives of the National Rifle Assn. threatened legal action if the city banned the event, but several gun control advocates said the City Council should not be swayed.
"This is not the time to be driven by fear of lawsuits," said resident Zanku Armenian. "It's time to stand up for principles."
The gun show discussion comes as state and federal lawmakers consider tightening gun regulations after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last month in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders.
Gun show supporters said it was unfair to lump that tragedy and the Glendale Gun Show into the same category, describing the triannual event as a family affair.
"The Glendale Gun Show is not a threat to the city of Glendale," said Steve Friesen, the event's promoter.
Councilman Rafi Manoukian, who suggested the ban in December, said gun shows don't belong on city property, especially because the Civic Auditorium is across the street from a school.
"It's time to be proactive," Manoukian said, adding that the gun show could still operate at a private facility in the city, such as the Hilton Hotel.
In 2006, Manoukian unsuccessfully pushed a similar ban for gun shows on civic property, which also attracted widespread criticism from pro-gun groups.
In 2012, three gun shows in Glendale generated about $55,000 in rental and parking revenue, or 13% of the Civic Auditorium's total income that year.
The show was expected to bring in $57,000 in 2013, according to a city report.