SANTA CRUZ -- The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is starting the new year with a bang by considering a temporary moratorium on new stores selling firearms or ammunition.

The board will consider the moratorium at its meeting Tuesday.

Currently, there are no regulations addressing retail stores that sell such products in the unincorporated areas of the county. Nor are there any existing firearm shops, or formal plans from anyone to open such a store, although there are several such stores operating in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Watsonville.

First District Supervisor John Leopold put the item on the agenda after learning people were considering opening a firearms store in Mid-County.

"On Monday afternoon (Jan. 7) I became aware someone was looking into opening a gun shop in Live Oak," Leopold said. "It's reasonable to think about what kind of regulations we should have in place."

The prospective store owners have not submitted an application to the county, and Leopold declined to identify them.

If approved, the measure would give planning staff time to study the potential impacts firearm sales may have on public health, safety and welfare, and consider zoning rules before anyone seeks permission to open a firearms store. Potential regulations could include restrictions on how close a firearms shop could operate to a school, and what safety and security standards should be set.


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With national attention focused on gun violence and Second Amendment rights, it's timely that the county establish policies on firearm stores, Leopold said.

"We have regulations for things that are seemingly benign, like vacation rentals, car washes and massage parlors," he said. "It seems reasonable we should address what kind of regulations we should have regarding firearms and live ammunition."

While the U.S. Constitution protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms, federal and state laws indicate that local governments may impose regulations regarding the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition, Leopold noted in a letter to the board.

If the board approves the ordinance Tuesday morning, a public hearing would be set for February. Considering the number of people who addressed the board when it was debating establishing a no-shooting zone in Corralitos last month, Leopold expects the public hearing to draw a crowd. He added that he welcomes input from the community.

"I'm encouraging people to get involved," at the public hearing, Leopold said.

The Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday in its chambers on the fifth floor of the County Governmental Center at 701 Ocean St.