- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

A federal judge yesterday ruled that Montgomery County could not use a ban on funding to force out gun shows.
Frank Krasner, whose Silverado Productions holds two gun shows annually at the privately owned, nonprofit Montgomery County Agricultural Center, sought the injunction.
His events at the fairgrounds are the only gun shows held in Montgomery County.
"It's a victory for civil rights just take gun shows out and put anything else in there," Mr. Krasner said. "There's never been any problem; it's just some people that don't like or understand what someone else collects."
State police say Mr. Krasner has cooperated with them and complied with firearm regulations at all the gun shows he holds across Maryland.
Virgil Holden, director of the National Association of Arms Dealers, called U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis' decision a "victory for freedom at a time when Americans deeply value their basic liberties." He said his association, which joined Mr. Krasner in the lawsuit, is "committed to defending [the case] to the highest court if the county chooses to appeal."
County officials said they will appeal the decision.
"We're going to defend our right to regulate firearms," said David Weaver, spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who earlier this year asked Gaithersburg and other municipalities to adopt ordinances to exclude gun shows.
This spring the county approved legislation that prohibits county funds or other support including tax breaks or discounts from going to any facility that allows a gun show on its premises. The law also would require a facility to repay any funds received from the county after Dec. 1 if, after that date, it allowed a gun show on its premises.
Gun rights advocates have characterized the county's actions as blackmail against the fairgrounds' board and a run against constitutional rights in the name of political correctness.
Mr. Krasner contended the law violated his company's rights to freedom of speech, and gun rights group Montgomery Citizens for a Safe Maryland contended the law violated its First Amendment rights to speak and assemble.
In his decision, Judge Garbis agreed that the plaintiffs raised serious constitutional questions. But he said those need not be answered in this ruling because the county law attempts to usurp authority that Maryland law gives to Gaithersburg as a municipality.
Specifically, he said, Gaithersburg, not the county, has the authority to "regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession and transportation of weapons and ammunition" within its city limits which include the fairgrounds.
Further, Judge Garbis wrote, the county law "is a gun sale regulation enacted by Montgomery County in the guise of a discretionary spending provision."
In this instance, he said, Montgomery County's intended "exercise of spending discretion" fails the requirement set in other federal cases that spending must be directly related to the legislation's purpose.
However, the county raises an important question of what spending regulations would violate First Amendment rights, Judge Garbis said.
The county approved the funding prohibition in May after Mr. Krasner had held one gun show, but a preliminary injunction issued during the summer already protected his Oct. 20-21 show.

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