The Burbank City Council voted unanimously June 6 in favor of a regulations on the sale of firearms and ammunition in the city.
In the next month, the Council will once again consider an extension to the yearlong moratorium on new or replacement firearms retailers, which is set to expire on July 24.
The new regulations are the result of more than a year of public discourse and activism, which picked up steam in Burbank in June 2022 after a string of deadly mass shootings nationwide, including one in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead, 19 of them elementary schoolchildren.
Burbank has 14 firearms dealerships — about one gun store for about every 7,500 Burbank residents, the second most of any city in the United States, according to a city report.
In response to the public outcry, the City Council placed a temporary moratorium on new or replacement gun stores on June 26, 2022, hearing the concerns over Gun World’s proximity to Roosevelt Elementary School. Many of the 14 firearms retailers in Burbank are located near sensitive-use sites such as religious centers and schools. The moratorium was later extended through July 2023.
During that 2022 meeting, the Council sought to buy time for staff to look into the possibility of establishing buffer zones that would prohibit firearm retailers near sensitive sites. The panel also discussed suspending the issuance of new licenses, thereby limiting the number of firearms retailers in the city over time.
At the time, gun control advocates also lobbied the city to stop licensing new gun stores permanently until the number of Burbank gun stores fell to an acceptable level.
While the newly approved regulations won’t permanently halt the approval of licenses for new gun stores, the city hasn’t yet closed the door on such policy in the future, stoking hopes that the number of firearms retailers could be limited or reduced over time.
The regulations create a comprehensive local program for obtaining a city license to sell firearms, and adds additional hurdles that gun store owners will need to jump if they want to sell in Burbank, including police inspections on store owners, application fees and on-site security requirements.
In the coming months, staff will return to the Council to recommend additional requirements that address firearms or ammunition retail businesses, including additional zoning and land use regulations, most notably, their proximity to sensitive sites.
“As we adapt to the changing safety needs of the city, we are also addressing the potential impacts to quality of life. By regulating firearms and ammunition retail sales within the city through the proposed ordinance, we are acting in the best interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the community,” Xjvirr Thomas, an associate planner for the city, wrote in a statement.
MENTAL HEALTH IN PUBLIC DEBATE ON GUN CONTROL
Those who oppose gun control have actively spoken out at meetings throughout the last year, often arguing in favor of mental health resources over gun laws.
“We need firearms more than ever. There’s a saying that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. We need to be able to defend ourselves from the people you are inviting into this city. The mentally ill. The drug-addicted,” said Joel Schlossman, a Burbank resident, during the June 6 meeting.
One gun control activist and Burbank resident, Jared Cavagnolo, addressed these claims.
“The best of the very scant literature out there looking at mass shooters and the mentally ill put the number at somewhere around 25% of mass shooters have a diagnosed mental illness.
“That’s on par with the percentage of the general population that has a diagnosed mental illness,” added Cavagnolo, referencing a study of pre-attack behaviors of active shooters conducted by the FBI.
That study showed that less than 5% of mass shooters had a record of gun-disqualifying mental health issues, such as involuntary commitment to a mental health facility.
First published in the June 24 print issue of the Burbank Leader.