Town bans guns in ‘sensitive places’
Gun rights activists have threatened to sue Los Gatos over its recent concealed carry ordinance, which prohibits the carrying of firearms in sensitive areas such as schools and places of worship.
The law firm Michel and Associates, which represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, recently sent a letter to the town claiming that the concealed carry ordinance approved this summer violates gun owners’ constitutional rights.
“Specifically, the ordinance prohibits the carrying of firearms – even by those with a permit – on town property, public transportation, and places of worship,” the letter states.
According to town attorney Gabrielle Whelan, the council met in closed session last week and voted to suspend enforcement of the ordinance on those locations until anticipated litigation with the state is resolved.
“We’re taking it seriously,” said Whelan. “The town’s ordinance is modeled after pending state legislation.”
The ordinance was supposed to take effect on September 1. While the town is suspending enforcement at places of worship, public transportation, and certain town property, the ordinance will continue to be enforced at schools.
To avoid litigation, the town already took a conservative approach in defining sensitive places, naming only locations that have already been cited in existing case law.
Whelan stated that the changes were made to bring the town’s ordinance in line with recent Supreme Court rulings and impending state legislation that would supersede local ordinances and prohibit concealed carry weapons in sensitive areas throughout California. Senate Bill 2 was passed by the state Senate and, if ratified, will take effect on January 1, 2024.
During the ordinance hearing, a resident spoke up about his experience getting a concealed carry permit in Santa Clara County, saying he had to go through an FBI background check and an interview with the sheriff’s office, complete 16 hours of training, and pass a psych test, background check, and shooting proficiency test. He spent over $1,000 on the entire process.
Heidi Owens, a Los Gatos resident and member of the gun reform group Moms Demand Action, said that after one of the 51 school shootings in the United States last school year, she and other parents were debating whether or not to buy bulletproof backpacks for their children.
“It’s just sad that that’s the way our country is right now,” Owens said during the council meeting. “With no action at the federal level and slow progress at the state level, local action becomes even more influential.”