Despite NRA/CPRA Opposition, Emeryville Passes Draconian Firearm Vendor Ordinance And Bans Gun Stores
Written by C D Michel
Emeryville City, CA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Prompted by the prospect of a gun store opening in town, on April 6, 2010, the Emeryville City Council (“ECC”) adopted an ordinance that, among other things, requires firearm vendors to obtain a permit from the Chief of Police and conduct a biannual inventory of all firearms possessed by the vendor, and also prohibits those between the ages of 18 and 21 years from entering a gun store where handguns are kept.
The ordinance is a variation of the Legal Community Against Violence’s (“LCAV“) model ordinance for firearm vendors, which was pushed in San Mateo and Oakland in the past few months.
The City passed these ill-conceived ordinances despite promises of lawsuits from the NRA and CRPA. These suits are forthcoming.
The ECC originally considered an almost identical version to that of LCAV’s model ordinance, and even passed it on first reading. That version has virtually the same useless restrictions for ammunition vendors as those placed on firearm vendors. Once they reviewed a letter prepared by NRA/CRPA attorneys, however, the Emeryville City Attorney admonished the ECC to remove any mention of the term “ammunition” prior to voting on the ordinance at second reading (See Letter). The ECC voted unanimously to remove all references to “ammunition” in the ordinance, but to keep the remaining provisions.
Interestingly, the City Attorney apparently did not find the remaining arguments raised by NRA/CRPA lawyers to be convincing, despite the vast, legal authorities supplied supporting NRA/CRPA’s position.
Those who spoke in opposition ranged from members of NRA Members Councils and frequenters of the pro-gun web forum Calguns, to random, unaffiliated residents of Emeryville. The public speakers helped to convince the ECC that the threat of litigation was legitimate, prompting the ECC’s rejection of the provisions regulating ammunition.
The ECC’s rejection of portions of LCAV’s ordinance constituted an amendment, which required them to restart the legal process for passing an ordinance. ECC reconsidered the Tuesday, March 16, 2010 hearing to be the first-reading of the amended LCAV ordinance. The remaining provisions had to be heard for second reading on April 6, 2010.
Before that heairng, NRA/CRPA attorneys submitted another letter opposing the amended version of the proposed ordinance; specifically, the two unlawful provisions that prohibit those between the ages of 18 and 21 years from entering a gun store where handguns are kept, and that require a biannual inventory of all firearms possessed by the vendor (See Letter).
These provisions are preempted by state law and infringe on constitutional protections, including the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Specifically, 18-21 year olds are permitted to purchase long-guns under both state and federal law. The Legislatures understood when making that law that most long-guns are sold alongside handguns, but the Legislature neither placed any limits on 18-21 year olds entering gun stores nor conferred authority upon local governments to do so. And, since 18-21 year olds have the right under state and federal law to purchase long-guns, they have a right under the Second Amendment to obtain at least long-guns, and a right under the Fourteenth Amendment to not be treated differently than other groups of people with respect to that right unless the government has a compelling interest that can only be achieved by prohibiting 18-21 year olds from gun stores; a ridiculous proposition.
Sadly, the ECC nonetheless voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance (See Staff Report for dealer ordinance). In addition, the ECC adopted a 10 month, 12 day extension of its moratorium on the establishing of any business selling firearms or ammunition. Originally, this was a 45 day moratorium with the purported purpose of providing the City an opportunity to assess zoning issues associated with establishing a firearm retailer. Now the moratorium appears to be an intentional roadblock to any party wishing to establish a firearm store within Emeryville. The zoning issue was merely a pretext (See Staff Report for Moratorium).
Getting Emeryville to back off its ammo ordinance was a partial victory for pro-gun advocates not only because ammunition vendors were exempted, but also because this matter provided a glimpse into how the anti-gun advocates operate. This entire exercise was prompted by someone merely expressing interest in opening a firearm store in Emeryville. That explains the moratorium and the sudden desire to adopt LCAV’s ordinance that makes running a profitable firearm store nearly impossible.
This type of blatant, outrageous attempt to hinder lawful gun ownership must be stopped. A NRA/CRPA Foundation Legal Action Project lawsuit challenging this and other LCAV-inspired ordinances is inevitable. Careful strategic planning and the pending McDonald decision being the only cause for delay.
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