None of the City Council members present at the September 25, 2023 Alhambra City Council wanted to go further than the ordinances that Vice Mayor Sasha Renee Perez put forward toward curbing gun violence. I would have liked to see a bolder stand against guns and gun violence coming from Alhambra.
By Melissa Michelson
Vice Mayor Perez has identified herself as politically progressive, but some people believe that since she is running for state senate, she has not been speaking out unequivocally enough. She may not want to aggravate certain endorsers, donors and voters come the March 2024 election.
The new ordinances mention 470 mass shootings since the beginning of the year, including the mass shooting that occurred a mile away in Monterey Park and another one that nearly occurred across the street from Alhambra City Hall, were it not for a local hero who stopped the gunman.
Ordinance 1 – “Buffer Zone”
A ‘buffer zone’ ordinance would prohibit the sale of firearms in certain areas of Alhambra. City Hall staff will likely base the Alhambra ordinance on Monterey Park’s own new ‘buffer zone’ ordinance, which bans gun sales 1000 feet (or about 3 blocks) from “sensitive receptors (residences, schools, community resource centers).”
Alhambra’s temporary moratorium will stay in effect for 45 days and will ultimately go to the Planning Commission with time for the public to weigh in, then go back to City Council for finalization.
In the meantime, the city will continue to accept and process gun sale applications in the buffer zones, but won’t take final action of approving the applications.
Outside of those areas, all “firearm sales” can still occur by permit from the city.
Within its eight square miles, Alhambra currently has two gun shops and one air-soft store.
Ordinance 2 – “Safe Storage”
A new section will be added to the Alhambra Municipal Code called “Safe Storage.”
“No person may keep a firearm within any residence unless the firearm is either (1) stored in a locked container; or (2) disabled with a trigger lock.”
“Residence” in this ordinance is defined as houses, apartments, motels, and any structure used or intended for human habitation. This ordinance echoes state law.
Ordinance 3 – No guns on city property
“The ordinance regarding prohibiting guns on City property would prohibit (with exceptions for law enforcement personnel) the possession of loaded firearms on any City-owned property. That would include, without limitation, persons carrying concealed weapons in accordance with valid permits.”
City Attorney Joseph Montes informed the Council that guns are already currently prohibited in Alhambra’s public parks.
City-owned property includes streets and highways, easements, fire stations, parking lots, parks, and City-owned buildings.
During public comment, members of the public expressed their support for the ordinances but said they don’t go far enough. No one spoke against the gun control ordinances.
In my comment, I told the Council that the entire state of Washington banned the purchase of new assault weapons in April 2023, covering rifles, pistols, and the AR-15. I suggested banning sales of firearms everywhere within Alhambra’s borders to show a stronger commitment against gun violence.
Katie Chan, lifelong Alhambran and Alhambra Environmental Sustainability Commissioner, asked that the city staff research gun violence prevention and explore funding for mental health resources for the City, because “if a person wants to cause harm, they will cause harm” whether guns are available or not.
Lewis McCammon, an Alhambra resident who attends most Planning Commission and City Council meetings, reminded the Council that recently in a Development Department monthly report, he saw there has been at least one gun business interested in setting up shop making inquiries at City Hall. to set up shop.
“Maybe in the future, but not now”
Vice Mayor Perez admitted this was just a start and there would be more to do some day.
Councilwoman Katherine Lee reminded the council that some people don’t even know there’s a no-smoking ordinance on city property, suggesting appropriate gun prohibition signage would be useful.
Mayor Ross Maza said maybe in the future they can look at public health education and signage.
Councilman Jeff Maloney told the public we should not dwell on what could have happened across the street from Alhambra City Hall.
The four councilmembers voted yes on the ordinances without changes. Councilwoman Andrade Stadler was not present to vote.
Language in one of the ordinances reads, “It’s vital that the city council act to the greatest extent possible to protect the community from violence resulting from firearms” and that the city can enact laws to do so. But tonight, they did not act to the greatest extent.
Why can’t Alhambra ban firearms in town, but allow non-lethal “arms”, since the Second Amendment grants the right to “keep and bear arms,” but doesn’t specifically mention ‘firearms’. It should also ban the gun sales everywhere in the City, without a ‘buffer.’
Given the need to maneuver around the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and that firearms are available for purchase both inside and outside of Alhambra, I’d like to have seen my city’s leaders take a bolder stance overall against gun violence.
> Agenda and video (click here).
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