Sunnyvale Gets It Right City Council Agrees with Second Amendment Advocates, Shoots Down Proposed Ordinance to Add More Regulations Restricting Firearm Vendors
On September 27, 2011, the Sunnyvale City Council voted down a proposed ordinance that would have created more regulations for firearms dealers within city limits. The proposal, known as the Firearms Sales Study Issue was the result of a Sunnyvale Planning Commission recommendation adopted after city staff released its report, entitled “Location and Operation of Firearm Sales Businesses.”
The “Firearms Sales Study Issue” was prompted by neighbor complaints about a new firearm vendor, U.S. Firearms, opening for business in Sunnyvale in fall of 2010. Despite the fact that it had all the necessary permits and licenses from both the state and federal governments, these few Sunnyvale residents demanded the city take action against all firearm vendors.
On August 22, 2011, the Planning Commission considered and passed a motion concerning the Firearms Sales Study Issue, recommending that the City Council introduce an ordinance to: (1) amend the municipal code to create a definition for “firearms sales”; (2) amend the City’s zoning code to prohibit firearm sales in any commercial and industrial zoning districts located within 200 feet of a public school; and (3) amend the City’s municipal code to require a new firearm Dealer Permit issued by the Director of Public Safety.
In spite of the facts that the City Council ranked the issue number 4 of 4 for 2011 and the city staff report indicated “there ha[d] been no evidence of increased crime, property devaluation or land use incompatibilities as the result of the businesses” and Sunnyvale “staff ha[d] not identified any adverse land use impacts associated with a firearms store,” the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council adopt an ordinance placing restrictions on firearm sales in Sunnyvale.
Attorneys from Michel & Associates, P.C. submitted a letter to the Sunnyvale City Council opposing the ordinance, on behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) Local Ordinance Project. The letter detailed how the proposed ordinance violates various constitutional principles, including the First and Second Amendments, as well as Equal Protection. But, surprisingly, the Sunnyvale City Council did not even need to reach the merits of the legal arguments to vote down the ordinance at its September 27, 2011 meeting. It instead did so based on its members’ thorough analysis of the ordinance, which brought them to the common-sense conclusion that the ordinance was pointlessly burdensome on firearm vendors.
Demonstrating its unfeigned desire to do the right thing, the City Council allowed a lengthy period of public comment, during which Second Amendment grassroots advocates, including supporters of the NRA Members’ Council and Calguns, anti-gun activists, and other community members addressed the Council with their respective concerns. Ultimately, our side carried the day, convincing both Mayor Melinda Hamilton, who was admittedly “undecided” until the last minute, and Vice Mayor Jim Griffith, who admitted that he doesn’t like guns, but realized that, out of respect for civil rights, you can’t just ban something because you don’t like it. We commend Vice Mayor Griffith for having the character to resist injecting his personal feelings into the matter and for making the right decision based on the facts at hand.
During the meeting, a member of the public questioned whether the City was considering the Firearms Sales Study Issue based on anti-gun biases, noting that Mayor Melinda Hamilton is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Mayor Hamilton immediately corrected this, stating that she was only part of MAIG because the previous mayor had been. She noted that MAIG emails “go straight to [her] junk mail filter” and that she did not follow what the organization does. When that same concerned citizen explained that MAIG is known for attacking the rights of law-abiding citizens who engage in conduct protected by the Second Amendment, Hamilton stated that neither she nor the previous mayor – who had previously resigned his MAIGmembership– were in favor of such a thing. She stated she would look into the issue further.
What took place in Sunnyvale is a prime example of how things SHOULD happen. Well-reasoned debate on both sides should take place and culminate in common sense prevailing over knee-jerk reactions that further restrict Second Amendment under the guise of “protecting the children.” The decision was a testament to the intellectual honesty of the members of the Sunnyvale City Council and to the rejection of the once-popular approach taken by many politicians of rubber-stamping pointless, “feel-good” firearm laws for mere sake of appearances.
Please email the Sunnyvale City Council today; let them know that you agree with their decision and thank them for their professionalism and integrity in the process. You can send a general message to the entire council at:
Seventeen years ago, the NRA and CRPA joined forces to fight local gun bans being written and pushed in California by the gun ban lobby. Their coordinated efforts became the NRA / CRPA “Local Ordinance Project” (LOP) – a statewide campaign to fight ill-conceived local efforts at gun control and educate politicians about available programs that are effective in reducing accidents and violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The NRA / CRPA LOP has had tremendous success in beating back most of these anti-self-defense proposals.
In addition to fighting local gun bans, for decades the NRA has been litigating dozens of cases in California courts to promote the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment. In the post-Heller and McDonald legal environment, NRA and CRPA Foundation have formed the NRA / CRPA Foundation “Legal Action Project” (LAP), a joint venture to pro-actively strike down ill-conceived gun control laws and ordinances and advance the rights of firearms owners, specifically in California. Sometimes, success is more likely when LAP’s litigation efforts are kept low profile, so the details of every lawsuit are not always released. To see a partial list of the LAP’s recent accomplishments, or to contribute to the NRA or to the NRA / CRPAF LAP and support this and similar Second Amendment cases, visit www.nraila.com and www.crpafoundation.org.