Needles, Calif. is a step closer to taking their fight for gun rights to lawmakers in Sacramento.
The Needles City Council on Tuesday, July 9, adopted a resolution declaring the city a “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” giving direction to city officials to begin working with their state representatives on legislation that would exempt the city — and possibly other border cities — from certain state gun laws.
The resolution not only declares the city’s support of the Second Amendment, it also has language about the flow of commerce in the tri-state area.
City officials and residents have two main points of contention with the state’s gun laws, which are some of the strictest in the country.
For one, it is illegal for Needles residents to cross state lines into neighboring Arizona or Nevada to purchase ammunition. The closest in-state ammo shops are 100 miles away in Blythe or more than 140 miles away in Barstow, while there are stores within a 15-to-20-minute drive across the river in Arizona.
“That’s a long drive to go buy a bullet,” said Mayor Jeff Williams earlier Tuesday.
Secondly, California does not recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits, which comes with inconveniences for out-of-state residents entering Needles.
For example, if someone wants to get from Arizona to Nevada, or vice versa, it’s a quicker trip along the 40 Freeway, which runs through Needles. But that means stopping at the border to unload the firearm and lock it in the trunk in order to abide by California state law.
The resolution drew comments almost universally supportive from locals.
“We Arizonans do avoid your city like the plague,” said Jamie Starr, a resident of Bullhead City, Arizona and NRA training counselor who holds four concealed carry permits.
“But, the only Social Security office for 150 miles is in Needles. My doctor is here. We have no choice but to come here.”
Ellen Campbell, who called herself a “gun slingin’ mama,” is skeptical. Campbell, who drives between her longtime home in Needles and a second home in Rialto, asked the council for more clarification on what it actually means to declare the city a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Campbell is particularly concerned with the difference in California’s and Arizona’s laws related to gun violence restraining orders and other gun violence prevention laws.
“Here we have people who have orders or protections on them across the river, coming over here with guns,” she said. “Who’s going to monitor this?”
Campbell, however, does agree that purchasing ammunition is a challenge, but she does not believe that will stop people.
“Restraining orders don’t stop bullets or knives, and laws are not going to stop people from bringing guns over,” she said. “They’re just going to be more careful about being caught.”
On June 11, the council formed a committee of its members to draft a resolution outlining these issues. After some assistance of the City Attorney and support from the National Rifle Association, the council adopted the resolution, Williams said.
Next, they’ll reach out to officials in other border cities and work with their state representatives on legislation that would carve out the exemptions. But, Williams said, they will wait until after the desert cities of Ridgecrest and Trona get what they need from the state to help with the aftermath of last week’s series of earthquakes.
“We have some money and some strength behind this moving this forward,” Williams said. “And they’re glad we’ve started this process so we’ll see.”
© 2019 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)
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