Monday evening, the Culver City Council heard the introduction of a proposed ordinance that would “establish a local program for the license and regulation of the sale, lease, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.” The measure would amend the city’s municipal code by adding a section, Chapter 11.19, containing several subsections of specifics.

There are two businesses of this type in town, the larger Martin B. Retting firearms show at 11029 Washington Blvd., and Big 5 Sporting Goods at 4343 Sepulveda Blvd.

The changes to the municipal code would include:

  • Requiring any person who intends to sell, lease, or transfer firearms or ammunition to obtain a regulatory permit
  • Definitions of what will be required on the permit application, including, among others:
    • Their Federal Firearms License and California Firearms Dealer number, if applicable
    • The address of the proposed location of sale, lease, or transfer
    • The names, ages, and addresses of all persons who will have access to workplace firearms or ammunition
    • A Certificate of Eligibility from the California Department of Justice
    • Proof of a possessory interest in the property where such business would be conducted
    • A signed agreement to indemnify or hold harmless the city and any city officials from any damages or liabilities suffered by the business
  • Subjecting the potential permit holder to an investigation by the police department
  • Grounds for denying or revoking a permit
  • Establishing criteria for on-site security measures that must be employed by the permit holder
  • Requirement for permit holders to carry liability insurance
  • Restrictions for minors and other prohibited purchasers from being on site at a firearms facility
  • Requirements for inventory records and searches of the property by law enforcement officials

Mayor Daniel Lee expressed some concern with regard to the ordinance allowing gun shows in private residences. “It doesn’t happen – it hasn’t happened very often – but I think it would make a lot of sense to prohibit them at a certain distance from sensitive receptors [like] religious organizations and schools,” he said.

More than two dozen residents were on hand for public comment on the item. Dr. Huong Nghiem-Eilbeck, a concerned parent, was on hand to lend support to the council and express her frustration that her six-year-old son had to participate in an active shooter drill recently in school.

Culver City parent Megan Oddsen Goodwin showed a video of several young Culver City students introducing themselves, along with several parents, who with a collective voice all asked the city council to pass Chapter 11.19.

Resident Melody Hansen, another Culver City parent, said, “The items listed in this ordinance are common sense, and are in effect in many other cities.” She wryly added, “[Marijuana] Dispensaries have stricter requirements than gun stores. Does this seem right to you?”

Speaker Sabrina Johnson warned the council of some issues with the ordinance. Saying she has some experience with California gun law, she cautioned the provision about prohibited persons inside gun shops, saying that once a person is declared prohibited, they are required to sell or release their guns on site at a gun shop. Therefore, they would need at least one-time access to transfer ownership of their firearms.

Alexander Reyes, who runs the Martin B. Retting gun shop, spoke against the strict inventory requirements of 11.19, suggesting that employees rather than law enforcement officials should be allowed to submit inventory reports using quality standards developed by the gun industry.

Assistant City Attorney Lisa Vidra addressed some of the feedback given in written form and public comment. Speaking to Sabrina Johnson’s concern, Vidra proposed adding a line, “except as required by law or court order” to allow prohibited persons entry to surrender guns in a firearms shop. Vidra also proposed a change to the inventory requirements, offering wording that would allow for a supervising employee to sign off on an inventory report, or at least supervise the employee that conducts the inventory and signs the report.

Councilmember Yasmine-Imani McMorrin brought a sense of urgency to pass the measure, saying, “Every day, there is some incident of shooting across the nation and we’ve got to do something.”

“The U.S. gun culture is odd, to say the least. Crazy, actually,” opined councilmember Goran Eriksson, who is an immigrant. He further voiced concern that gun problems seem to be accelerating and stated his belief that the country has fallen short at the state and Federal levels. He pointed to evidence that suggests states and localities need to get control of “ghost guns,” or guns that are unserialized and untraceable that can be bought online and assembled at home.

After Councilmember Alex Fisch proposed that the city establish a violence prevention program, encouraging people to see it through a public health lens, he moved for passage of Chapter 11.19 with the stated amendments. Mayor Daniel Lee then made some concluding remarks, reminding the public, “This is not just about school shootings. It’s about gun violence and community violence,” for which he received great applause from the public in attendance.

Lee did express some sympathy for the idea that the city being in charge of gun inventory may be a bit onerous. However, city staff said they found it necessary because state and Federal government requires inventory so infrequently. Staff said they would plan on only one inventory report per year.

The Chapter was adopted on a unanimous 4-0 vote. Vice Mayor Albert Vera was absent.

Photo by Martin D Brown

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