Santa Monica currently has ordinances in place that require gun dealers to obtain a local license to operate, prohibit firearm sales at home businesses, and require dealers to periodically report their inventories to law enforcement. But for City Councilmember Caroline Torosis, that’s not enough.

According to a memo written by Torosis, “In Santa Monica, we have yet to restrict gun dealers from operating near sensitive areas where children or families are congregating, we do not require dealers to videotape sales, we do not prohibit unaccompanied minors from entering gun stores, and we do not require regular police inspections of gun dealer premises.”

“We’ve seen these mass shootings hit close to home in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay this year,” said Torosis at Tuesday evening’s city council session. She is one of three city council sponsors of a new effort to restrict the availability of guns and add responsibilities for gun owners. “There’s empirical evidence that cities that have additional restrictions on the sale of guns and safety restrictions make it such that the surrounding community is safer.”

Currently, Big 5 Sporting Goods sells firearms, and according to Torosis, Santa Monica is one city that has yet to adopt safe storage laws for gun owners or measures requiring reporting for lost or stolen guns. She says that Beverly Hills, Culver City, Redondo Beach, and West Hollywood have all adopted safe gun measures, and the City of San Jose became the first in the nation to go as far as requiring gun owners to pay an annual fee for storing guns and to obtain liability insurance. The fees are collected by a nonprofit foundation that uses the funds to support a safer San Jose.

“I think we’ve seen now the Supreme Court and others have made it more difficult in some ways to restrict the use and carry of guns,” said Councilmember Jesse Zwick, another co-sponsor of the measure. “But there are a lot more legal avenues at our disposal to make sure we’re being as safe as possible.”

Councilmember Phil Brock inquired as to whether the council could restrict Big 5’s gun sales, to which City Attorney Doug Sloan said it would mean taking away a property right from Big 5, which the city would have to pay for as a type of “takings.” Sloan did say the city could restrict the display of guns, and perhaps require them secured in a back room and only have them brought out by customer request, and that his office was already looking at that language for further consideration by the city council.

Councilmember Christine Parra pointed out that Big 5 was one of the major retailers looted during the May 31, 2020 riots that plagued Santa Monica, and that guns were indeed stolen.

Councilmember Lana Negrete moved the item, which Parra seconded, and the motion to establish the firearms restrictions outlined by Torosis and Mr. Sloan was adopted unanimously, 6-0 (Councilmember Oscar De La Torre was absent).

Photo by the author.

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