Pleasant Hill to vote on regulating gun sales

The Pleasant Hill City Council passed a proposal placing restrictions on gun shops, but a final vote will take place in 2 weeks.
November 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
An East Bay city is weighing new rules for gun shops. Those rules would impact where new gun stores could be located. Owners and employees would also have to pass criminal background checks. Critics say it's another step in eroding Second Amendment rights.

The mayor of Pleasant Hill says his proposal is really all about gun safety. These debates always turn into the fundamental issue of gun control and the Second Amendment. That's likely to happen at City Hall on Monday night with a packed audience of gun right and gun control advocates.

The emails have been pouring into city hall. Many of them are from out of town, both for and against the controversial gun store ordinance. In the wake of last Friday's shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, emotions may run higher for advocates of gun control.

That debate will happen in the council chambers of the small bedroom community of roughly 34,000 people.

"This is simply a matter of public safety and the opportunity for a city to take action before something unfortunate happens," said Pleasant Hill Mayor Michael Harris.

Harris authored the ordinance which would restrict where new gun stores can be located.

"It does come up with sane and reasonable distances from a firearms dealer to schools, residences and other sensitive users... parks, playgrounds and large daycare centers," said Harris.

Gun dealers would also have to get a police permit, check employees' backgrounds, put in security systems and monitor firearm and ammunition sales.

"We have a very low crime rate. We just don't have any of the problems that this ordinance purports to address," said Pleasant Hill City Councilmember Jack Weir. He is a longtime member of the NRA who is against the ordinance. "I see it as a part of a national movement to enact gun control, proposed by people who are basically against any private citizen from having guns."

Harris says the handful of existing gun stores in Pleasant Hill will be exempt from the zoning restrictions and they won't feel much of the impact of the ordinance.

Weir disagrees with that idea. He told us, "One of our dealers, the gentleman who owns City Arms has said he would have to hire an additional person just to keep track of ammunition sales. That means his cost of business is going up. That means his prices will have to go up."

Business aside, the debate on Monday night will most likely turn into gun control and the Second Amendment.

Under the proposal, gun stores could not be located within 150 feet of a residence, 500 feet of a park or certain businesses and within 1,000 feet of a daycare center or school. Store owners and employees would also have to pass a criminal-background check. Dealers would also have to install surveillance equipment and an alarm system at their stores.

11PM UPDATE: The Pleasant Hill City Council approved the proposal. It will move to the full council in two weeks where they will take a formal vote. Three votes are needed to pass the proposal.


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