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Needles, CA Declares Itself A 'Second Amendment Sanctuary City'

Stan Shebs/Wikimedia Commons

The City of Needles, California, is not quite within a stone’s throw from Arizona and Nevada – but pretty close.

And it’s only 100 miles south of Las Vegas—close by road, but maybe even closer in culture.

In Nevada, several rural counties have said they will NOT enforce a new state law—which becomes active in January – for stricter background checks on guns.

And in Needles on Tuesday, the city council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the city to become a "Second Amendment Sanctuary City.”

“What really spurred this and what got us up in arms - so to speak - about it was the new Prop 63 that went in effect in July, where we can’t buy ammunition in Arizona or Nevada. That means our residents have to go to Blythe – 100 miles away – or Barstow – 140 miles away – to buy ammunition,” Mayor Jeff Williams told KNPR's State of Nevada.

Under Prop 63, which was passed by voters, people wishing to buy ammunition must have a permit from the state of California.

Williams admits the proclamation doesn't have a lot of teeth but he's hopeful that it gets a discussion going in Sacramento.

“It’s going to be a battle but we’re hoping to get some other border cities with us,” he said.

Besides the ammunition problem, Williams is unhappy that California doesn't recognize concealed permits from other states, which means people living in Nevada and Arizona can't bring their weapons into his town.

He would like to see a carve-out for his town and other cities bordering other states. 

Williams understands that the idea of changing those gun laws just for his town is far fetched but he's standing up for his principals.

“They never think about us out here. We’ve got 1,400 – 1,600 voters and they always look at San Francisco and LA for what they want to pass,” he said.

Williams and the town of Needles do have at least one supporter in Sacramento.

Jay Obernolte is the assemblyman for the 33rd Assembly District, which includes Needles. He told KNPR's State of Nevada he absolutely supports the idea of a Second Amendment sanctuary city.

“I think it’s a great idea. California, unfortunately, has a long history of putting overburdensome regulations on local jurisdictions about what they can and can’t do with firearms. I think this is a great way of pushing back,” Obernolte said.

In fact, the assemblyman plans on introducing a bill allowing other cities to opt-in to a Second Amendment sanctuary city policy.

Obernolte said the problem in California is a "fundamental disagreement about why we're having these problems with gun violence." 

He said gun control supporters believe simply taking guns away from people is the solution, while others - like himself - believe there is more to it than that. Unfortunately, he said, the taking-guns-away approach has been "the predominant argument in California."

Obernolte is a Republican and in the minority in the California Legislature. He understands the chances of passing a bill allowing for more Second Amendment sanctuary cities is unlikely but "there is always a chance," he said.

He is also skeptical about a lawsuit related to the gun control issues in California going anywhere. 

"The courts have affirmed the right of states to put restrictions on gun owners,” he said, and until that point of view in the court changes, it will be difficult to win a case.

Jeff Williams, Mayor, Needles, CA; Jay Obernolte, Assemblyman, 33rd Assembly District, California State Legislature 




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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.