First published in the Aug. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank City Council voted Tuesday to extend a moratorium on new firearms retailers for another 10 months and 15 days. The decision is intended to prevent the establishment of new gun stores while the city investigates further zoning regulations on the retailers.
On July 26, the city placed a 45-day moratorium on new or replacement gun stores after community members raised concerns over the new Gun World’s proximity to Roosevelt Elementary School. Many of the 14 firearms retailers in Burbank are located near sensitive-use sites like religious centers and schools.
“It gravely concerns me that a firearms shop which has already sold weapons to individuals who have committed shootings like the Isla Vista shooting is essentially only 1,000 feet away from my church building,” Pastor Ryan Chaddick of the American Lutheran Church in Burbank said during the meeting, referring to a series a series of misogynistic terror attacks in Isla Vista, California in 2014. The shooter responsible for those attacks purchased a firearm at a Burbank gun store.
Last month, the city council directed staff to investigate additional zoning designations for gun retailers. They were also directed to look into gun safety measures they could consider in an effort to address rising community concerns.
The city intends to conduct a full review of a model ordinance written by the Giffords Law Center. Burbank could draft new common sense gun laws based on this model ordinance.
Since July 26, the city’s department has begun a review of the Giffords Law Center Model Ordinance, created a map of buffer zones around sensitive-use sites, evaluated potential changes to the city’s permit and license process, and has investigated regulatory steps taken by other cities.
Additional measures could include a gun-buyback program, an option that would allow the city to purchase used firearms from residents, as well as gun-education programs. Also discussed were potential measures against ghost guns — firearms that lack serial numbers or those that have been assembled illegally.
Michelle Webster, a lifelong Burbank resident, mother, and more recently, a gun control activist called into the meeting to say, “I know that there is much more for the city to learn in order to proceed on this issue with knowledge and careful attention. Let’s give our staff the proper time they need and have requested for them to research this issue properly.”
Others disagreed. “Guns in the possession of law-abiding citizens makes Burbank one of the safest cities in Southern California. Let’s continue the safe tradition of Burbank,” said resident Stephan Castle during the meeting. “Any action by the City Council of Burbank to infringe the rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms should be reconsidered.”
“The requested 10 month and 15 day extension will provide the time necessary for the city to complete its study of potential regulations for firearm retailers,” said Xjvirr Thomas, the project planner for the moratorium and related issues.
Without the moratorium and an update to the city’s current zoning regulations, new requests for firearms retail establishments could cause “compatibility issues with surrounding land uses and put the city at risk of impairing its substantial interests in economically sustainable development, community health and perceptions of safety, and public image,” according to a staff report by Thomas.
The council adopted the resolution to extend the moratorium for 10 months and 15 days in a 4-0 vote, noting the absence of Councilman Bob Frutos.