The small town of Needles, California, which sits right along the California-Arizona border, declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary City earlier this month. The city's officials wanted to show their support for gun rights and obtain an exemption from state gun control laws.
According to officials, California's anti-gun laws are severely hurting the small border town. Arizona gun owners have decided to boycott California over the Golden State's gun control laws, which is hitting Needles very hard.
“All we can do is tighten state law,” Needles Mayor Jeff Williams told the San Bernardino Sun. “We can’t loosen it, but we can ask for a change in the law or an exemption.”
Needles City Council is considering making one of three various moves:
1) Obtain an exemption from California's gun laws, which would include Needles and a 65-mile radius around the town.
Beginning July 1, California residents have to purchase ammunition from a federal firearms licensee (FFL), meaning ammo purchases made online have to go through an FFL. It's illegal to purchase ammo out-of-state and bring it into California. When they pick up their ammo, they have to undergo a background check, just like when a firearm is purchased.
This is significant for small towns, like Needles, that are in the middle of the desert. Gun owners now have to drive more than 100 miles to purchase ammo or pick up online orders, even though there are FFLs right over the river in Arizona.
2) Ask the state to recognize CCW permits from Arizona and Nevada.
As it currently stands, California does not have reciprocity with other states. Other states, however, recognize California's CCW permits.
“It’s time to have reciprocity,” Williams said. “Out-of-state residents cannot get a concealed weapon permit in California, however you as a Californian can get an out-of-state permit in every other state. It’s time for us to recognize other permits.”
3) Make a request to San Bernardino County to allow deputies to not enforce gun owner violations for residents of California, Nevada and Arizona residents who are following their state’s rules.
If granted, this request would mean that deputies would be more lenient on gun owners from other states. Deputies could ask out-of-state residents to take their firearm back over state lines instead of pressing criminal charges against the person.
Mayor Williams said he is working with other border cities to see if they'd be interested in getting in on the request. His team is also meeting with California Highway Patrol, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and state legislators to see if it's possible to obtain an exemption.
The exemption request seems unlikely though. The reason California fails to recognize other state's CCW permits is because anti-gunners believe a person who obtained a permit in Arizona or Nevada might not have been approved in the Golden State.
Plus, if this exemption was granted, other cities and counties may ask for the same type of exemptions.
“I think that the issue that we would have is somebody who might not be prohibited from owning a firearm and having a concealed weapon permit in Nevada or Arizona might be prohibited here in California,” Steve Lindley, program manager with the Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Los Angeles, told the Sun. “There are a number of cities up and down the state bordering Arizona and Nevada, or Oregon, and they’d be asking for those same exemptions.”
The new regulations going into effect on July 1 are a result of Prop. 63 passing, which requires background checks for all ammunition purchases. Voters approved the initiative back in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote.