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Los Gatos Residents Split Over Gun Sales in Town

More than 100 speakers address Council members Monday evening in favor and against the sales of firearms and ammunition in the community.

More than 100 speakers addressed the Los Gatos Town Council Monday evening during a meeting to discuss the sales of firearms and ammunition following the December 2012 opening of Templar Sports, 611 University Avenue.

The long and emotionally charged meeting was attended by at least 300 people who packed inside Council chambers, into the chambers' reception lobby and into the adjacent old Los Gatos Library where the meeting was projected on TV sets and a large screen.

One by one, each speaker was allowed to state their position on the controversial issue for three minutes. The Council patiently listened to residents' input taking a five-minute break at around 9:30 p.m., after what already had been a 2½-hour meeting.

At five minutes to midnight, Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector reported that she still had approximately 25 speaker cards to go through so Councilwoman Marcia Jensen and Councilman Joe Pirzynski moved to have the meeting continue on Feb. 11. About 125 speaker cards had been submitted as of 9:30 p.m.

"This is obviously a very challenging and divisive issue nationally, statewide and now locally," said Los Gatos Town Manager Greg Larson.

Larson reminded the Council that federal and state laws prevail over local laws with regard to gun retailers in communities. Most recently, he said, a San Francisco case overturned that city's voter approved prohibition on all firearm sales.

Although the hearing seemed scheduled specifically to hear from the community about the issue, at times it seemed that Council members were scrutinizing every step taken by staff to allow the store to open.

Mayor Spector, who called the meeting, asked for information regarding the public notice for the business' design review committee's evaluation of the exterior modifications of the building where it operates.

Councilwoman Diane McNutt asked for information about Templar Sports business license review and approvals and Vice Mayor Steven Leonardis requested all applications and documentation about its business license, certificate of use and occupancy, building permit and federal firearms and state licenses issued.

Town staff has been directed to research and prepare a potential ordinance and policy changes to:

  • Designate which land-use zones may be appropriate for sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Require a conditional-use permit for the sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Restrict home occupation permits for sale of firearms and ammunition;
  • Establish a police permit requirement for dealers of firearms and ammunition;
  • Require identification checks for the sale of ammunition; and /or
  • Require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms

Those wanting an ordinance to at least get future gun retailers to obtain a conditional-use permit to operate in town and new zoning established to locate them in a certain section of town said that many residents were upset by what they perceived was a lack of transparency about the business.

They also expressed concern that one of the owners is a current officer with the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department.

Many in the audience held small green signs that read, "Why no public hearing?" and many held orange signs that simply stated: "We support Templar Sports."

Can the town close Templar Sports? Larson said his staff believes it has no legal authority to close the business unless it violates federal or state law.

Can firearms be restricted in the future? Larson said absolutely, but with limits as is being recommended. He added he was looking for Council direction to bring back to the body a number of land-use and regulatory controls over firearms retailers in Los Gatos.

"We don't believe based on prior court rulings that we can prohibit firearms sales in all land-use zones. There needs to be some appropriate places to avoid a blanket prohibition, which has not been sustained in prior court rulings."

Larson said staff can research the options for the Council in the next three or four months based on decisions it will make during its Feb. 19 meeting regarding workload and distribution.

RELATED COVERAGE:

  • New Los Gatos Gun Shop Causes Safety, Security Concerns
  • Los Gatos Gun Shop Owner is Templar Sports
  • Town of Los Gatos Issues Statement on New Gun Store
  • Los Gatos Resident Wants Stricter Gun Retailer Control Laws
  • Video: Los Gatos Town Council to Hold Study Session on Gun Sales
  • Los Gatos Gun Store Opponents Protest Saturday
  • Small Group Protests Gun Shop Opening
  • New Los Gatos Gun Shop May See Protestors
Tia February 11, 2013 at 09:42 AM
Most is noise stemming from fear at both ends. As for Mr Leonardis, he would be of no concern, if due process was followed.
CJ February 14, 2013 at 03:40 PM
To Michelle McNutt, re your comment about being anonymous, it is for a reason. The insults being received by some of the gun supporters including you are reason to be anonymous. I am a Los Gatos resident for 20 years. Michelle you need to stop your insults and behave in a more civil manner.
Michelle McNutt February 14, 2013 at 03:55 PM
CJ, it is the lies and deception coming from the anonymous profiles here on Patch that I speak out against. That is what is truly uncivil. There is a constant stream of outright manipulation. It started with the anonymous tip to Patch that a new gun store had opened and that it was "only selling assault weapons." And is has continued. The only threats have ever come from those who oppose the rule of law. It is easy to lie behind a mask of online anonymity. I do not respect those hiding in the shadows. We don't don't know who you are. And now an anonymous profile is telling me what I "need" to do. I "need" to stop calling out the anonymous lies?
Dave M March 04, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Dave M 1:42 pm on Monday, March 4, 2013 I live in Los Gatos, so my support is locally grown. 1) This is not an ideal situation, nor is it an ideal society that is why there are rules, laws and police to enforce. THE RULES, LAWS, AND POLICE ARE IN SUPPORT OF THIS BUSINESS VENTURE. There were no laws broken here. A Police officer is part owner of this establishment. 2) Are they advocating, ordinary citizens be allowed to take law into their own hands to settle issues? NO - DO YOU SEE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT SOMEWHERE? On the other hand - the Supreme Court of the US has established that the Law Enforcement community is NOT legally responsible to protect you. Please look it up. You are the only one responsible for your own protection. 3) Then why do we need laws and police? TO ARREST CRIMINALS AND SOLVE CRIME. Not to prevent crime or to protect you. Those are fringe benefits if you or the officer are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.. 4) Then why are they suggesting they are law abiding citizens? BECAUSE THEY FOLLOWED THE LAW, and so will their customers. Or the BATFE will shut them down, and they will be charged with whatever ACTUAL crime they committed. Thanks for listening.
Dave M March 04, 2013 at 10:35 PM
KW & CJ, I support your right to an opinion, and do not support the abuse of protestors. But yours is not the 'end-all Los Gatos resident' opinion, however much you may want it to be. Do you also support the opinion of fellow residents who disagree with you? Because my locally born and raised friends and I all support this business, and resent the implication that it is here to do evil in (our) town (also). You would be surprised how many people really own guns that do no one harm: your friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. We will be there again as well. Should we bring our licenses or PG&E bills? If this is a LG issue, I would ask that those opposed bring theirs as well.

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