First published in the June 25 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
A group of Burbank residents planned this week to protest the opening of a large Gun World location today, June 25, citing concerns about the store’s size and proximity to schools.
Protest organizers said they want to show that the Burbank community does not support the weekend opening of the new storefront, located at 3800 W. Magnolia Blvd., and have major concerns about the presence of local firearm dealerships.
They plan to protest across the street from the business from 10:30 until 11:30 a.m.
The recent string of mass shootings, particularly the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, renewed public pressure on the City Council to set restrictions on the number and locations of local gun dealerships.
City department officials said in February that 14 gun dealerships operate in Burbank, many of them just blocks away from schools.
By that count, which did not include Gun World’s new building, Burbank has more gun dealerships per capita than Glendale, Los Angeles and Pasadena. A sign outside the current Gun World location stated the 2412 W. Magnolia Blvd. address will be used for ammo purchases and firearm deliveries only.
The protest, organized by a roughly 700-member Facebook group called Stop Gun Retailers in Burbank, had only a few dozen online sign-ups this week.
Organizers said they were concerned the presence of another gun store in Burbank, particularly a relatively large dealership, could endanger nearby residents.
There are a few recent studies analyzing whether gun stores increase the frequency of violent events, though city officials said they are investigating whether local dealerships are connected with criminal incidents.
“Our protest is to show that our community is concerned about how many gun stores we have in Burbank. There was a failure to discuss with the community the relocation of this gun store into a mega gun store and we are upset that we were blindsided by this decision,” said protest organizer Linda Bessin in an email this week.
“Our priority is the safety of children and of all residents and we want the city to take action to let us know exactly what measures are being taken to reassure us that we are being protected from the epidemic of gun violence that is all over our country,” she added.
The City Council directed department officials in February to research potential avenues of restricting gun dealerships, such as changes to zoning law or a cap on the total number of stores.
After community members held a rally outside City Hall this month, the council moved up discussion of the potential regulations from August to July 26.
Gun World, which has operated in Burbank for decades under different owners, has insisted that it cares “greatly about the safety of our staff and our city.” Its website and social-media feeds, which claim the store has “the largest in-stock inventory in Southern California,” have said it will give away a rifle, firearm attachments and hats on its opening day.
It also said on Facebook that representatives from the California Rifle and Pistol Association, a gun-rights advocacy and National Rifle Association Affiliate, will attend the opening.
The business did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
“The city of Burbank has failed to address the issue of the large number of gun stores in our city and is now allowing an enormous gun store to open in a residential neighborhood right near [Roosevelt Elementary School],” said Michelle Barsook, a member of Stop Gun Retailers.
“Allowing this new superstore to open without any sort of pushback is a tacit endorsement of the culture of violence that it perpetuates. My hope is that this protest makes it clear to Gun World that their new neighbors do not welcome them,” she added.