Needles, California considers itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary City

by WorldTribune Staff, June 28, 2019

Needles, a California town of 4,844 people which sits on the border with Arizona, has declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary City, a first for the Golden State.

“The City Council wanted our community to know that we support their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Needles Vice Mayor Jeff Williams said in a statement on June 15 after city council members unanimously approved the declaration.

“While we recognize that all lawful gun owners are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with state and federal gun laws, we also recognize that the State of California cannot adopt laws that impair the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”

Beth Baumann, Associate Editor for Townhall who writes frequently on Second Amendment issues, noted that “Arizona gun owners have decided to boycott California over the Golden State’s gun control laws, which is hitting Needles very hard.”

Needles officials say the state’s anti-gun laws are having a severe, negative impact on their town.

The law is concealed carry by right in neighboring Nevada. In Arizona, residents are required to fill out an application for permission to carry a concealed weapon. Both Nevada and Arizona recognize California’s concealed carry laws, but California doesn’t recognize theirs.

Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said that Arizonans or Nevadans used to carrying or traveling with firearms sometimes forget they are armed when they cross into California. Because California does not recognize concealed carry permits from those states, Needles’ Arizona and Nevada neighbors “avoid coming to Needles to shop and do business,” Daniels said.

Williams told the San Bernardino Sun. “We can’t loosen it, but we can ask for a change in the law or an exemption.”

Baumann noted the three options the Needles City Council is considering:

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 will be required 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,” Baumann noted. “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.

“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.

Baumann noted that 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,” Baumann wrote. “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.”

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 in 2016 with 63 percent of the vote.

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