The Face Of Gun Control
When you think about who represents gun control, you probably think of an eccentric billionaire, out of touch national politicians, hypocrite celebrities or a public relations executive who self-identifies as a stay at home mom. While these may be ones promoting the agenda, they are only the figureheads. The real faces, the ones who are systematically eliminating your rights, are your local city and county boards.
This Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm, the City Council in Scotts Valley will vote to implement unprecedented local gun control measures, even for the State of California. While claiming to be working in the interest of ‘public safety’ while ruminating about a single incident at a local firearm retailer 30 years ago, the new regulations are designed to do one thing and one thing only. Eliminate the possibility of firearm retailers, non-retail firearm repair services and firearm training from operating in Scotts Valley.
Before I launch into a longer that normal post on this topic, I want to point out that we have spoken to the Planning Commission about their part in this — and at their invitation — met with a representative to learn more about the process and let them learn about the businesses they are being asked to regulate. They at least have been willing to listen to us and learn, unlike other parts of the City who make cameo appearances and call it collaboration. I feel bad for our Planning Commission because they are simply doing the job being asked of them. All the while, they are being used by politicians in Scotts Valley and other cities in California as the latest and greatest gun control mechanism.
Proposed now in addition to the separate firearms retail license currently required by the City, as well as an ordinance requiring video and alarm systems (already the industry standard), new ordinances will mandate “safety inspections” by the Chief of Police who will have unlimited, undefined discretion to “impose” security requirements on potential new businesses. But since this hasn’t created enough of a barrier to new firearm businesses, the City is proposing to force all new firearm retailers, plus non-retail firearms repair and related services (firearm training) through the Conditional Use Permit process.
So, what is the big deal about the User Permit? A lot. If you look at the City’s list of permitted uses vs. conditional uses (see links below), you’ll see the type of impact the City is concerned about and it’s mostly about high volume traffic, parking and noise. The category firearm retailers should fall into is the permitted class of ‘retail establishments’. However, since the product they are selling is objectionable to certain members of the community, the City believes they should be classified under conditional use.
What will it take for a new business to go through the Conditional Use Permit process? The costs are about $1,500 and up to six months. Let’s look at this in the context of a new firearms retailer or non-retail firearms repair service. In addition to their normal start up time and cost, they now must face an uncertain decision of whether they can conduct business at this location. They will pay an additional six months of rent or lease on a location. IF the city approves them, they still have to obtain their FFL (Federal Firearms License), which could take another three to six months and cannot be applied for until the City license and Conditional User Permit is approved. This means a new retailer or non-retail repair service could be looking at up to a year of location costs without being able to conduct business.
Now think of this in the context of a non-profit, firearms training organization that exists only due to grants, volunteers and generous in-kind donations from local businesses. Charging participants only a $10 fee for a full day class, how exactly would this be feasible? The simple answer is it would not be, and that’s the idea.
Then of course, there is the one step in the Conditional User Permit process the City Council seemed the most excited about. “Use permits also have a noticing
requirement, which would serve as a mechanism to advise the public about any future gun shops.” The Planning Commission sends out notification to everyone within a 300-foot radius of the proposed business seeking comments. But comments can come from anywhere, from anyone and include anything, ranging from relevant concerns about the business operations to how the thought of this business operating in the city will impact their feelings. Is there an objective way of weighing all of the input? Of course not, and that’s the key. It is completely discretionarily.
Questions to be answered at the City Council meeting include the updated ordinances on video & security, after hours safe storage, police inspections and “imposed” security requirements and approval of the Conditional Use Process for firearms retailers, non-retail firearm repair services and firearms training, referred to as “related uses”.
Still unanswered is who approved the increased scope publically voted on at the City Council meeting on October 4, 2017 from “firearm retailers” to then include “firearm repair services and related uses” before it was sent to the Planning Commission for review. It is very apparent this was the result of two businesses opposing the City Council’s actions, but nobody has taken credit for this behind closed doors spite ordinance. This is not what the residents of Scotts Valley would expect in an open and accountable local government.
All of this boils down to the question of why this is being done. If it were in fact for the sake of public safety, the direct impact of all these proposed regulations would have been made crystal clear at the beginning. How these supposed ‘magnets of crime’ have impacted our community as compared to crime at every other business and home in our city would be clearly evident. It is not, and it never will be.
Firearms retailers and non-firearm repair services are highly regulated, safe, responsible, legal businesses. The fact that some members of the community don’t approve of the product or services they provide, doesn’t grant the City license to keep them from doing business in the community. This is more than just a Second Amendment argument, it is government overreach by the current politically correct who think this is inappropriate for a community based solely on the legal product in question.
As for including firearms training in the Conditional Use Permit process, that’s just pure spite by a City that has no understanding of the private sector training environment. The Police Department’s position at the Planning Commission was that firearms training should be included since they have guns around and they (the Police) wouldn’t want them to just leave guns out and around after the training.
The irony is of course laughable. The City is asking firearm related businesses to submit to a security inspection from the Police Chief that is completely undefined and has undocumented criteria, which could cost hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars in mandated improvements, or not be achievable at all, but that we should “trust” they will be doing the right thing. At the same time, the Police Department doesn’t trust certified firearms instructors teaching a hunter safety, youth, women’s or marksmanship class would be responsible enough to secure their firearms at the end of a class without having a City Conditional Use Permit and additional ordinances and inspections to guide them.
Regulating non-retail firearms associated firearm training to this bastardization of logic will do only one thing; prevent firearm safety training in the City of Scotts Valley. Should the ONE firearm-training provider in the City need to move or expand, the barriers the City is pursuing will certainly prevent anyone else from ever offering it. And it seems like the word SAFETY is what is being tossed around as the reason behind all of these proposals. If the City was interested in safety, maybe they should be trying to encourage safety training instead of eliminate it. Maybe SAFETY isn’t what this is about?
At the bottom of this post are links to various related City documents and the meeting agenda item. They are good information to read and understand. If you can attend the City Council meeting this week, I encourage you to do so. If you are willing to speak, please be as clear and polite as you always are. If you cannot attend, I encourage you to call or email the City Council with your thoughts. Their contact information can be found here: http://scottsvalley.org/council/city_council.html
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Scotts Valley City Council 12/06/2017 Meeting Agenda Item 3
Scotts Valley Commercial Zoning District Regulations
Scotts Valley Use Permit Application
Scotts Valley Posting Requirements