PLEASANT HILL -- Contrary to rumors swirling around town, city leaders are not reconsidering an ordinance they adopted last year regulating the sales of firearms and ammunition.
Barring a successful legal challenge -- a September trial is scheduled to hear the National Shooting Sports Foundation's lawsuit against the city -- gun dealers must have a police permit to operate in Pleasant Hill.
The City Council on Monday is scheduled to consider amending the zoning ordinance to incorporate restrictions from the firearms ordinance on where gun stores may operate.
In May, planning commissioners voted unanimously against recommending approval of the amendments, in part, because they believed the rules were redundant and the argument for separating gun shops from massage parlors was flimsy.
Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate have sought to spin the commission's decision to rally their supporters.
The Contra Costa Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has circulated an e-mail erroneously claiming the "Tea Party-dominated Planning Commission" recommended that the council rescind the firearms ordinance.
The group also invokes the recent mass shooting near UC Santa Barbara and asks council members whether they would be able to say they had done everything possible to protect the public if a similar tragedy happened at Diablo Valley College.
In a May 16 post on its legislative website, the National Rifle Association describes the commission's vote as a "significant victory for the Second Amendment and common sense" and "a blow to the influence of billionaire anti-gun zealot Michael Bloomberg, whose supporters on the City Council are the ones pushing this ordinance."
Mayor Tim Flaherty said he's read many of the emails pouring into City Hall that also misconstrue the issue before the council Monday.
"Whatever happens with this ordinance will have no effect on what was passed last year," said Flaherty, adding that he sees no reason to reconsider the firearms regulations. "The license requirements which include the geographic limitations are still in place. It's just making them part of the zoning ordinance."
Following marathon public hearings, a divided council in November voted to require a police permit for firearms and ammunition dealers. Under the ordinance, gun stores can't locate within 150 feet of a residence; within 500 feet of a park, another gun dealer, a massage parlor or an adult entertainment venue; or within 1,000 feet of a day care or school.
In a lawsuit filed in Contra Costa Superior Court, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group based in Newtown, Conn., alleges that the distance requirements essentially make the firearms law a zoning ordinance. As such, the group claims, the Planning Commission should have reviewed the measure before the council approved it. The city maintains that the ordinance went through the correct process.
Store owners and employees also must pass a criminal-background check. Dealers must install an alarm system and surveillance cameras, as well as submit an annual report to the police chief detailing compliance with the regulations.
Existing firearms dealers are exempt from the location restrictions, but they must submit employees' background information to the Pleasant Hill police. The sole dealer in the city with a home occupancy permit to sell guns from his residence can continue operating. Existing gun dealers have until Nov. 1 to comply with the new rules.
"I don't think that the firearms ordinance should be reconsidered," said Councilman Michael Harris, who drafted it with Councilman David Durant.
"I think we went through a long and challenging discussion on the merits of the firearms ordinance during last year's hearings and both sides had an opportunity to express their concerns."
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
What: Pleasant Hill City Council meeting
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday
Where: City Hall, 100 Gregory Lane
For more information, visit the city website at www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us.