Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

In this Bee file photo, Adam Fahlbusch demonstrates a rifle's workings at Big Horn Gun Shop in El Dorado. The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday, August 27, 2013, to adopt an ordinance that would require gun dealers to obtain special approval from a council-appointed commission and pay $7,150 for a new permit before they open.

Sacramento City Council approves hurdles for new gun sellers

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 - 12:30 am

Firearms dealers will face extra obstacles before setting up shop in Sacramento.

The City Council in a 7-1 vote Tuesday adopted an ordinance that would require dealers to obtain special approval from a council- appointed commission and pay $7,150 for a new permit before they open.

The measure would give city leaders an extra layer of oversight and invite public comment, officials say. Under current rules, gun shop owners need only seek approval from the city Police Department.

"It brings common sense to the equation for the potential placement of these businesses," said Councilman Kevin McCarty.

Gun advocates decried the move.

"This is motivated by politics," said Jesse Figueroa, co-owner of M&J Gun Trade, which is located in midtown at 24th and J streets.

The council's action would lengthen the process for opening a gun shop. Dealers would first apply for a conditional use permit with the Planning and Design Commission. The city would inform local stakeholders – including neighboring property owners – and hold a public hearing.

Existing gun stores would not be affected by the provision unless they move, according to Joy Patterson, a principal planner with the city. The new permit will cost dealers $7,150, in addition to existing fees.

Tuesday night at Sacramento City Hall, lobbyists and citizens railed against the ordinance, arguing that guns used in crimes are typically not purchased at legitimate gun stores.

"If this is not in fact going to reduce gun violence, then why are we doing this?" asked Craig DeLuz, a lobbyist for the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.

Sacramento's action is part of an ongoing push by municipalities across the nation to tighten regulations related to arms dealers, in the hopes that such measures will reduce gun violence. Last year, the city of Pinole voted to prevent firearms dealers from operating out of their homes.

Still, some council members acknowledged that the ordinance isn't a cure-all.

"I don't think this ordinance is going to solve all of our problems … but this is one more tool the city will have," said Councilman Jay Schenirer, who has spearheaded the current push to impose stricter gun regulations in the city.

The region has seen a surge in the number of gun shops in recent years. About 185 gun dealers and manufacturers are based in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties as of 2012, a 13 percent increase from 2010, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Councilman Allen Warren voted against the measure. Mayor Kevin Johnson was absent from the vote because he was traveling in Washington, D.C.

"I'm not in support of this ordinance," Warren said, to the clapping and cheering of dozens of spectators gathered in the council chamber.

He called the measure an "impediment" for business.

Figueroa, the gun shop owner, hinted that he might take his store elsewhere.

"Sacramento is so unfriendly," he said.

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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