NEEDLES — The city council inspired serious and apparently widespread discussion with consideration of declaring Needles to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary City during its regular meeting of June 11.
The request to do so was brought by Councilor Timothy Terral. It received several supportive comments by people in the audience from both sides of the river, and prompted unanimous action by the council to make the declaration and prepare a resolution to formalize it, as well as forming an ad hoc committee to study the issue and set forth requested changes in California gun laws and policy.
The committee, working with the city’s attorneys, brought the document to council July 9.
Included are 21 “whereas” statements with citations including the Bill of Rights, Supreme Court cases from 2008 affirming an individual right to possess firearms unconnected with service in a militia (District of Columbia v. Heller) and 2010 affirming that the right of an individual to keep and bear and arms is protected under the Second Amendment and is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply also to states (McDonald v. Chicago), a quotation from Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution: “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness and privacy.”
Boiled down the resolution orders:
- Needles is declared to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary City.
- The city council “affirms its support for the San Bernardino County Sheriff in his exercise of sound discretion to not enforce against any person an unconstitutional firearms and ammunitions law within the city.” This represents a change from the original wording of the agenda item, which concluded “and to demonstrate lenience to concealed carry permit holders from other states while in the city.” The sheriff’s department will continue to enforce California firearms laws as currently written.
- The city won’t appropriate funds to enforce laws that unconstitutionally infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms.
- The city affirms support for the free flow of commerce with neighboring communities in Arizona and Nevada, “and demands that the California State Legislature cease adopting and rescind unlawfully restrictive firearm and ammunition laws that violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by improperly impairing the free flow of commerce between the states.”
- Asks California to adopt reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders of other states.
Council members took turns reading from a list of “talking points” supporting the action. Availability of ammunition to Needles’ shooters turned out to be a key concern.
Phasing in provisions of Proposition 63, a 2016 initiative imposing new state regulations on ammunition and large-capacity magazines, has meant that after July 1 of this year Californians wishing to buy ammunition must go through a background check process performed exclusively by ammunition dealers within the state. Want to go dove hunting? Head to Barstow or Blythe as ammo isn’t available in Needles, and going to Walmart, Big 5 or a favorite gun shop in Arizona for a box or three is now illegal.
Once again the subject attracted scrutiny from people and media, bringing a reporter/photographer team from the San Benardino County Sun and prompting several public comments.