NEEDLES — Can sanctuary, readily granted to people in some parts of California, be extended to provisions of the United States Constitution? Can actions of one tiny city be an instrument of change for state law?
“The Needles City Council has voted unanimously to declare itself a Second Amendment sanctuary city,” reads a June 15 prepared statement from the city of Needles. “In taking this action, the city became the first California city to make such a formal declaration. In addition to declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary city, the council voted to form an ad hoc committee to study the issue and draft a resolution setting forth requested changes in California gun laws and policy.”
The question came before council in the form of a discretionary item requested by Councilor Timothy Terral on the June 11 agenda.
Terral’s observation, quoted in the city’s agenda documentation and talked about in open session during the meeting, is that some — perhaps many — residents of Arizona and Nevada refuse to enter California, Needles included, due to state prohibitions on carrying firearms. Terral advised those assembled the state, “Does not allow them to come to California and get a CCW (a permit to carry a concealed weapon). He continued that people don’t come to Needles to shop, or to visit, for that reason; and that quite a few have stated they’d take Mohave County Route 1 through Golden Shores to connect to eastbound Interstate 40 so they could avoid California altogether.
The issue prompted several public comments, none opposed to Second Amendment rights, from residents on both sides of the river including one who identified herself as Mohave County Dist. 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius. She called the move historic and promised assistance.
Some local residents spoke about being afraid of not being able to defend themselves if confronted by a criminal; but also being afraid of becoming criminals themselves if they attempted to exercise a right to carry a firearm as recognized by the U.S. Constitution.
The city’s June 15 prepared statement quoted Mayor Jeff Williams as saying: “The city council wanted our community to know that we support their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. While we recognize that all lawful gun owners are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with state and federal gun laws, we also recognize that the state of California cannot adopt laws that impair the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. We will be working through our ad hoc committee to develop a resolution for city council consideration addressing in greater detail our concerns with California’s existing gun laws.”
The documentation accompanying the agenda item listed three possibilities for council consideration, to request:
• The sheriff department not enforce weapons violations by California, Nevada and Arizona residents;
• The state legislature allow an exemption to California gun laws within a 65 mile radius centered on Needles;
• The legislature allow reciprocity of concealed weapons permits with Nevada and Arizona.
Terral called the move a first step to start to change California law regarding firearms.