City Moves to Study Impact of Gun Stores

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader A man enters Burbank Ammo and Guns, one of several firearms dealers in the city. The Burbank City Council moved this week to study the impact of gun stores on neighborhoods.

First published in the Feb. 12, 2022, print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Burbank City Council recently agreed to study the potential negative effects of having gun stores in residential neighborhoods and investigate potential regulations to address any impacts.

Council members said at their Tuesday meeting that they have heard from several residents concerned about the number and location of firearms dealers in Burbank — particularly the Magnolia Park neighborhood — and directed city officials to research legally defensible policies that might limit the stores’ presence.

Doing so would be a complicated matter, according to City Attorney Joe McDougall. He said that the city would have to identify an issue related to gun stores, such as whether they are targets for crime or that firearms purchased there are used in criminal incidents.

“Where we want to start is [asking], ‘What’s the problem?’” he added. “And it can’t be that there [are] gun stores.”

Burbank has 14 licensed firearms dealers, according to a city staff report submitted to the council, which notes that the number has remained fairly consistent over the past five years. Four of the locations have been in business for more than 27 years, the report added, and nine are located on Magnolia Boulevard or Burbank Boulevard.

Glendale has eight firearms dealers, while Pasadena has four and Los Angeles has 38, according to city of Burbank building administration manager Carol-Ann Coats, though a representative from the Glendale Police Department said the city has six licensed gun stores.

By Coats’ counts, Burbank has about 13 gun dealers per 100,000 residents, while Glendale has 4.1, Pasadena has 2.9 and Los Angeles has 0.97. In terms of city geography, Burbank has 0.81 dealers per square mile of land, Glendale has 0.26, Pasadena has 0.17 and Los Angeles has 0.08.

The Burbank-provided numbers do not include entities with other types of gun licenses, such as manufacturers and importers, that are not primarily gun dealers. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives database of federally licensed gun licensees puts, for example, Burbank’s total count at 17 unique entities and Glendale’s at 11.

Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony had requested the agenda item during the City Council’s Dec. 14 meeting. He explained that he raised the topic after some community members expressed that Burbank gun stores shouldn’t be located near schools and residences.

“Talking to folks, it wasn’t really the total number [of stores] that they were concerned about,” Anthony said. “It was the placement.”

The vice mayor also emphasized that he wanted city staff members to research municipal laws that had been challenged in court and upheld, rather than venturing into unknown legal territory.

McDougall explained that other cities and counties in California have instituted “buffer zones” around residential neighborhoods, in which gun stores are barred from operating. Such policies have withstood litigation from firearms organizations, he said. But in a few areas such as Magnolia Park, he added, some gun dealers are just 15 feet away from residential zones.

Additionally, McDougall warned, gun rights advocacy groups would likely oppose any restrictive ordinance.

“These groups are prepared, these groups are probably watching now and they’re going to want to hear answers” to questions regarding what problems the policy is meant to address, he said.

Councilwoman Sharon Springer said that the council had discussed the topic before, following the Parkland, Florida school shooting. She added that she was worried that more guns shops could come to Burbank in the future, seeing the city as a popular site for the industry, though McDougall said there currently is no evidence that local dealers have the same level of draw as larger gun businesses.

“That’s what I’m concerned about, is that we’re going to be the gun capital of the world,” Springer said.

Following the discussion, the City Council — except Councilman Bob Frutos, who was absent — unanimously agreed to Anthony’s motion to direct city staff members to research the topic.