Voters in Sunnyvale, California will decide next week on a strict new gun control measure that has already set off both sides of the debate on gun laws in the United States.
The ballot initiative, known as Measure C, would affect gun possession and ammunition sales. Gun owners would have to report firearm theft to the police within 48 hours, lock up guns at home, get rid of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and provide a thumbprint when purchasing ammo. Gun dealers would also have to keep records of ammunition sales, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
“Our federal government can’t seem to set aside the (partisanship) and deal with this, so it’s got to start from the bottom up. Why not Sunnyvale?” Mayor Tony Spitaleri, 69, a retired Palo Alto fire captain, told the Chronicle. “Why not Mountain View next? We’ve got to start somewhere.”
The NRA says it will sue if the Nov. 5 measure passes, claiming it overlaps with state laws and violates the Second Amendment.
“Measure C presents an opportunity to litigate some unresolved Second Amendment issues that need to be resolved by the courts, including the Supreme Court,” Chuck Michel, West Coast counsel for the NRA said, adding that it could cost Sunnyvale thousands to defend in court. “Plus, it’s useless policy, given Sunnyvale’s nonexistent crime problem.”
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Sunnyvale, a Silicon Valley suburb, has one of the lowest crime rates in California, the Chronicle reported. With 140,000 residents, it had just 150 assaults and other violent crimes—with only three homicides—in 2011, according to the FBI.
Spitaleri had previously signed a petition from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition founded by Bloomberg to promote municipal gun control, the newspaper said. After the NRA informed Sunnyvale members, they urged Spitaleri to remove his name from the petition, which he did.
But after the December 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and the subsequent failure of a federal gun control measure, Spitaleri did another about-face.
“Like everyone, I got angry. Really angry,” he said. “Are we getting numb to these shootings? Are we accepting this as normal? When are we going to start taking a stance?”
Spitaleri, helped by lawyers, the City Council and residents, then came up with Measure C. According to the Chronicle, he believes the measure will withstand legal challenge and has the support of most Sunnyvale residents. Bloomberg gave $3,000 to the campaign supporting the measure’s passage.
NRA says measure impacts only law-abiding citizens
Said the NRA in a statement:
“Measure C is being disguised as a gun safety ordinance to make the citizens of Sunnyvale feel safer but nothing in Measure C will reduce California and Sunnyvale’s crime rate. Criminals are not thwarted by gun control laws. Those intent on misusing firearms and committing crimes, also known as violent criminals, obtain firearms through theft or illegal transfers. Measure C will ONLY affect and punish law-abiding citizens.”
Lou Soliz, a former Palo Alto police officer who lives in Sunnyvale, supports the measure, saying he became a gun control advocate after a customer’s daughter was shot to death in 2011.
“That hit us hard,” he told the Chronicle. “Guns should be out of our society completely. In Sunnyvale, we don’t want to be like everyone else. We don’t want shootings. We don’t want this violence.”
Bai Nguyen also thinks the city should crack down on guns, telling the Chronicle he was once held up at gunpoint in the liquor store he owns.
“A gun to your head is scary,” he said. “The less guns, the better. We don’t need that stuff.”
Another Sunnyvale resident had decidedly different feelings. Tattoo artist Michael Wilson told the Chronicle that for those who don’t like weapons, the solution is to not buy them.
“There’s always been crazy people killing other people,” he said. “Ban machine guns? That’s not going to stop it. … I think there’s already enough gun laws.”
Chuck Michel told the Chronicle that Measure C is ultimately a political maneuver, one that is unnecessary and illegal.
“Measure C is put forth by a billionaire New York mayor trying to push his social agenda,” Michel said. “It’s a solution in search of a problem, and it’s going to cost Sunnyvale taxpayers a lot of money.”