Montgomery ban on gun shows at fairgrounds voided

October 05, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A U.S. District Court judge struck down yesterday a hotly debated Montgomery County ordinance aimed at banning gun shows at the county's privately owned fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.

Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that the county overstepped its authority when it enacted a measure in May that cut off funds to any private group that permits the display or sale of firearms.

The law essentially forced the Montgomery County Agricultural Center Inc., which owns the fairgrounds, to stop renting space for gun shows each year. The county has provided several hundred thousand dollars in recent years for fairgrounds renovations.

Frank Krasner, who leased the fairgrounds over the past 10 years for weekend hunting-season shows, filed suit June 22 in U.S. District Court. He claimed that the law violated his rights, and that the county lacked the authority to enforce such a measure.

Garbis stopped short of ruling on the constitutional issues yesterday, but agreed that the county lacked authority to regulate gun shows within the city limits of Gaithersburg.

"The judge said the county's law cannot extend into the city's limits," said Marc P. Hansen, an assistant county attorney.

Krasner did not return telephone calls last night. A spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said the county would appeal.

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