Gun Store Regulation

This is a letter I recently mailed to Governor Newsom, Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblymember Kevin Mullin.

Dear Governor Newsom, Senator Hill and Assemblymember Mullin:

I currently serve as the mayor of the San Carlos City Council. However, I am writing you today as an individual Council member, not on behalf of the Council. The opinions and perspectives expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of the City of San Carlos or its City Council.

I ask the State to take what steps are necessary to return regulation of the number of firearm stores allowed in a community to the residents of those communities, acting through their local governments.

After 18 months of effort, our Council revised the regulations governing where and how stores selling firearms may operate within San Carlos. This effort was sparked by a tremendous, spontaneous outpouring of community concern triggered by a proposed branch retail store of a major firearms retailer.

Those new regulations will impose significant limits on any new firearm stores seeking to locate within San Carlos. I strongly support the changes.

But they do not go far enough. And the reason they don’t is because court rulings related to San Francisco’s Measure H established that the State of California pre-empted local regulation over the number of firearm stores communities allow within their boundaries.

This is bizarre. We have the authority to limit the number of banks, nail salons and dollar stores. Such regulations have been on San Carlos’ books for years. Legal experts tell me we could, if we wished, similarly limit the number of grocery stores. Some communities go even further and ban all retail establishments, of any kind. Why should firearm stores be exempt?

I suspect the pre-emption stems from a desire to avoid legal challenges by those who fervently support the 2nd Amendment. That is a significant risk for a community contemplating regulating firearm stores. But each community ought to be allowed to judge that risk for itself and decide what it is willing to take on.

If we can regulate access to the food our residents need to survive – survival surely being an implicit Constitutional right – then we should be able to regulate the number of stores which sell tools that, whatever other desires they fulfill, have all too frequently been used to maim and murder our fellow residents.

Very Truly Yours,

Mark Olbert
Mayor, San Carlos City Council

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