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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
KMD February 06, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Not sure on all the other issues you point out, but I still don't see what law or rule was broken in allowing a legal business in town. BTW - Not all residents are against gun sales in Los Gatos so please don't lump us all together in your desire not to have a gun store here. "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."
Don Wolf February 06, 2013 at 05:32 AM
I am a Los Gatos resident and am alive because I was able to defend myself with my semi-automatic rifle after being shot at. The children in Connecticut would be alive if the Principle had a gun rather then her body to shield her chldren and so would the children be alive. I have grandchildren in the Los Gatos schools and I can promise you that I would seek justice for the Los Gatos and school officials if they continue to imprison our children to be slaughtered without any defense other then hiding under desks. Teachers and staff should be allowed the carry concealed if they choose to and are trained.
Jay Remley February 06, 2013 at 07:49 AM
+1 Don. Guns don't kill people...People Kill People. If criminal minds knew that our schools were protected by teachers/principles, our students/children would not be the sitting ducks/targets of such criminal behavior. Let's treat the root cause vs. the symptom.
Don Wolf February 06, 2013 at 08:29 AM
Jay, I agree. Let us treat the root causes. However, in the meantime let us save some lives while the arguments rage about the civil rights of criminals and insane people. Why punish the law abiding by further restricting our rights to defend ourselves and our children while the criminals and insane are given an even easier shot at our children? Why attack women's rights to defend themselves and their children? After all, it is almost always men who do the mass killings of children and women. Those teachers in Connecticut deserved better then to be trained to throw their bodies to shield the children. Just one of them with a weapon could have stopped the carnage!
Ron P February 06, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Responding to Katherine’s post, who cares where people come from to make their voices heard? So nobody came from outside Los Gatos to support anti-gun shop position, are you sure??? They did, and I talked to them on Monday night. We are all Americans. Why is it that people I know on the left of this issue are always trying to divide "we the people" by race, affluence, where we live, etc. I reject your comment as small minded and ignorant. If you want to fall into the silence the opposition crowd, you’re in the wrong place. Media bias and ignorance supports your position quite well. Just yesterday, the Washington Post reported that media bias is alive and well with anti-gun stories outnumbering pro- gun stories at 8 to 1. How about the President and his cabinet are disgusting in their use of tragedies like Sandy Hook to advance a leftist narrative. These tragedies in “gun free" zones are the real story. The shooter in Colorado sought out a gun free zone theater. I'm sure the” well meaning” people in Colorado shared your mindset and in doing so committed their fellow citizens to a death sentence. Let’s not forgot our history, Hitler made gun ownership illegal for Jews and his political enemies, how did that work out for them? The only way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.
AR February 06, 2013 at 05:25 PM
KMD - clearly no laws were broken or the shop would not continue to operate. what is broken is trust. at this point i no longer trust the town manager to make decisions on our behalf. obviously a decision like this should have been scrutinized by elected officials. you merely consent to the application of arbitrary power in this instance because you are satisfied with the result. that won't always be the case.
Bob Sutterfield February 06, 2013 at 05:51 PM
2/ If one wants to buy a gun it is very difficult and time-consuming legally (especially with California's strict gun control regulations), not difficult illegally. 3/ There are established gun shops and clothing stores and restaurants in neighboring communities. Templar Sports competes on customer service, professionalism, and the high-end retail experience, just like every other business in Los Gatos. If you want the lowest price on bulk ammunition or boxer shorts or lunch, go to Wal-Mart or Old Navy or McDonald's. If you want surprisingly well-qualified help behind the counter as you make your decision on a complex and high-dollar purchase, this is your place.
Bob Sutterfield February 06, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Templar Sports provides a high-end specialty retail experience that fills a gap in the existing regional marketplace. It's well-suited and compatible with Los Gatos business values. For some consumers, that service is worth traveling from other communities, driving past Templar's competitors instead of buying similar products in Campbell or San Jose or Sunnyvale. Would you prefer out-of-towners also stay away and not spend money at other businesses in Los Gatos?
KMD February 06, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Who do you trust Larry to make decisions on our behalf? All these people, except for the staff are elected by the towns people. The staff are hired by them or their predecessors. I especially love it when the Mayor wags her finger at us when talking to her subjects as though they are children in the council meetings. We have no one to blame but ourselves. I didn't vote for anyone in office and 90% of the time they aren't working for me. I take solace in knowing they aren't working for the people who elected them either. Every once in a while the law prevails and I get lucky. It'll happen once in while for you too.
KMD February 06, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Amen Don. Glad you are here to tell your story.
DJ February 06, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Many people showed because this is not just a Los Gatos issue. Discrimination and the 2cd ammendment are an AMERICAN issue. Do you actually think that police prevent crimes? They don't. They show up to do the investigation. Have you ever called 911? You get put on hold! Yes, having a gun in your home for protection is there to be able to take the law in to your own hands. Absolutely 100% in to your own hands. Wanna know why? Because you have a lawful right to do so and would be necessary in a home invasion. I feel sorry for all the kids that were dragged to that meeting. It was child abuse. Making those poor kids believe that if a gun store operates in Los Gatos that they will be in danger and possiby killed like at Sandy Hook. Global warming....another stress for all the poor kids. Shame on all the "parents" for using their kids as tools. It's mental abuse.
DJ February 06, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Agree with you 100% on the dividing problem out there. Look at the example that is being displayed by Obama. He has done nothing but try to divide us by race, age, sex, wealth and now guns. Not once, has he advocated for unity. It's always throwing gas on any division he can sink he slimy teeth in to. Every time you turn around he talking about a war against women, the wealthy need to pay their fair share, a war on gays, stealing funds from the elderly. It's all crap. My mom this morning said something that fit perfectly. The government treats society like mushrooms. They want to keep us all in the dark and feed us only shit.
CJ February 07, 2013 at 05:35 AM
Yes, i have been called several names by the out of town bullies that support this gun shop in Los Gatos: chicken little, idiot, sheep to name a few. Is this the type of crowd we want in Los Gatos? NO. We are better than this. They have no respect and want to control us the residents of Los Gatos.
CJ February 07, 2013 at 05:39 AM
The great majority supporting the gun shop are out of town folk.
Katherine Winkelman February 07, 2013 at 07:13 AM
You are talking about the second amendment rights and that is not what is being discussed here.......this is not about gun ownership. I read there is a run on purchase of gun and that is a boom for the shops because people are afraid they are going to be difficult to purchase, now that's encouraging news.....not about gun ownership.
Tia February 07, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Templar should not be surprised to be hear allegations of being equated to crooks, manipulators, robbers, racists... etc. They would have been accepted even by non-pro-gun people, if they had come the regular route of public scrutiny, debate, restrictions, adjustments as most other business have done in the town. Since they chose to bypass all these acceptance steps or be open to rejection. (medical marijuana did, though I would have liked them to be around with proper scrutiny and lots of restrictions and study on second hand smoke affects) >> I hope both would try again but through the proper route and restrictions.
Michelle McNutt February 07, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Tia, who are you to say what is proper? Proper = legal. They didn't "choose" anything other than what the residents of Los Gatos have "chosen" to be in the town's law. They didn't "choose" anything other than what the residents of the state of California have "chosen" to be in the state's law. They didn't "choose" anything other than what the residents of the United States of America have "chosen" to be in the country's law. They wen to the the town. They followed each and every local, state, and federal law to the letter. The moment you anonymously use language like you have here you become "equated to crooks, manipulators, robbers, racists... etc." By the way, the California State Supreme court is currently hearing arguments that will determine if any city in California has the right to "allow" them or not. If they find in favor of total state control, Los Gatos will have absolutely no say on medical marijuana shops in Los Gatos. Just like they currently have no say with state and federally controlled businesses like firearms retailers.
DJ February 08, 2013 at 01:25 AM
It is about gun ownership! You don't want access to guns in Los Gatos right? How is that not effecting my right? To say that I could just go to Campbell or San Jose and be just fine is not true and completely misses the point being made. It's not your choice to pick and choose what stores are in Los Gatos. If the law was followed, which it was, then what is the problem? Everyone is blaming the counsil and owners thinking that some shady deal was struck. It was in previous meeting minutes right? It had been discussed at previous meetings. Just because you chose not to attend and missed your opportunity to voice your opinion, doesn't mean someone did something wrong. You need to blame yourself and make an effort to be more involved if you have such a strong opinion. You should be more concerned about our federal gov. It's way out of control and has put your kids lives at risk in way you can't even imagine. You'd better teach them Chinese. Also, why does Los Gatos celebrate wine drinking with an Art/Wine festival yet fear even walking past a gun store? Alcohol kills kids and adults and promotes abuse. Why is this ok with LG yet this store's mere presence shows a danger? It doesn't make sense. Please explain.
Michelle McNutt February 08, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Most who spoke or showed support for Templar WERE residents of Los Gatos. Did you not listen? Silliy thing was people demanding that the town kick them out for selling hand grenades. Really?????Or opening across the street from a children's ballet studio (THERE IS NO BALLET STUDIO THERE. THEY WOULD LIKE TO MOVE IN IN THE FUTURE INTO A COMMERCIAL LIGHHT INDUSTRIAL RETAOL ZONE). Yes there were some who were not from Los Gatos, but there were far more people from Los Gatos supporting Templar Sports. And at least 80% of the people in attendence were holding "We support Templar Sports" signs. Pleas stop your sensationalistic anonymous misleading rants. Are you the one that Steve Leonardis was talking to just before the meeting Monday? Was the "Don't worry, Steve just said we're going to get them tonight. He's got info that will bury them" part of your plan?
Michelle McNutt February 08, 2013 at 01:52 AM
There was a Los Gatos High teacher there that wanted to speak in support of Templar, but was afraid because the principal (his boss) was there. In the end, the principal did not speak in support or against Templar. Just acknowledged the difficulty of deal with the differing opinions on the issue.
Michelle McNutt February 08, 2013 at 01:53 AM
This is a bold face anonymous lie.
Tia February 08, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Dear Michelle McNutt, I am no authority on what is Proper=legal. Just a resident questioning its town processes. Though you claim knowledge of Templar following everything legally and ethically. Do you work as part of the staff who processed this or the applicant / processor for this store or which other source do you derive your information. Please Advise.
MichaelJ February 09, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Kudos to LG Patch for bringing up this issue and being vigilant on the businesses opening up in town. Bottom line, if someone is going to commit a crime in LG, they will most likely not get their guns from this store. I like to think that any idiot that decides to come and rob my house, will think twice about the possibility that I may have gone to the local gun store to buy myself a gun.
CJ Butcher February 10, 2013 at 11:07 PM
This woman, a self pronounced "former anti-gun" person, put it very well. http://www.youtube.com/embed/vn7bkncf1_E Just a few minutes long, well wroth the time.
Michelle McNutt February 11, 2013 at 01:06 AM
I no longer live in Los Gatos, but I do work there. I don't work for the town, but I did listen to the town management go over the way this went through the process. And my youth should not be an issue. These accusations of conspiracy, grenades, machine guns being sold to kids, and white supremacy against the police department, Templar, and the town staff make me sick. And now claims that the threats against the owners were fabricated by the owners? With all these demands for an investigation, I hope we see an investigation of Mr. Leonardis actions and behind the scenes connections to those who are protesting this business.
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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