A temporary moratorium on the sales of retail firearms, ammunition or destructive devices was unanimously approved Monday evening by the Los Gatos Town Council.
The prohibition came through the adoption of an urgency ordinance that will give town staff time to research, study and return to the Council a potential town ordinance to designate which land-use zones may be appropriate for such sales in the future, including consideration of appropriate proximity limits from schools, parks and selected establishments.
The unanimous vote came after nearly two hours of testimony from pro- and anti-gun sales supporters in town. Opponents of the moratorium said it was too broad and based on unfounded evidence that gun sales pose a threat to public safety.
Elizabeth Dillon had written the Council urging it to adopt the moratorium. "I urge you to restrict the sale of guns in Los Gatos," she said. "While the matter is being studied, adopt a moratorium on firearm sales."
However, Jess B. Guy, an attorney with the Santa Clara County Office of the Alternate Defender who teaches firearms instruction to area prosecutors and lawyers, wrote the Council opposing the moratorium.
"A moratorium must be based on the interests of a community, not political or irrational motives, or some strident group," he wrote.
Los Gatos Councilwoman Marcia Jensen proposed adding additional findings to the ordinance that were more specific to the town. One of those was that the town, unfortunately, has the highest suicide rate in Santa Clara County and firearms have been used in many of those tragedies.
Councilman Joe Pirzynski said he was aware of the statistic as he recently served on the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee. "It's indeed true," he said about the town's high suicide rate. However, he said, it's not been verified that most of those suicides occurred through firearms.
Jensen thanked the speakers for their comments and said she agreed with those who had urged the Council to adopt the moratorium due to land-use concerns.
"The only thing we're considering tonight is whether to craft new regulations or ordinances with respect to any retail operation which is selling firearms," Jensen said. "A temporary moratorium is allowed in the state of California ... the town may enact it to protect the public safety, health and welfare.
"We're only considering an ordinance," she explained. "We're not considering what the ordinance may look like, or whether the ordinance will be adopted ... We're not considering banning guns ... Templar Sports will not be affected by the moratorium," she said.
Jensen said nearness to schools and parks are appropriate considerations. In fact, she said, the state has a gun-free school zone law.
The ordinance also stated that the moratorium was necessary as the sale of firearms and ammunition are not currently regulated by Los Gatos Town code, nor does the code contain adequate procedures for investigation and addressing the impacts of new firearms businesses to the town.
"Obviously this is a very divisive and conflicted issue not only for the Town of Los Gatos, but for most of our surrounding communities, the state of California and the nation as a whole," Pirzynski said. "We need to be responsible for ourselves and I think that's what we're attempting to do."
Mayor Barbara Spector said she was supporting the ordinance, after three long public meetings, as it was a way to put a "time-out" on the issue.
"Let staff and the Council see what, if anything, we should do in this community on our land-use for gun sales and I will have to say that for many people the fact that Templar [Sports] came forward without a public debate was of great concern and trust me, we get that."
—For comprehensive coverage of Los Gatos gun retailer Templar Sports' opening in town, please see our topic page by clicking here.