PLEASANT HILL -- The lengthy debate Monday over regulating gun sales touched on mental illness, violent video games, school shootings and public safety.
But for the second time, a public hearing on an ordinance requiring a police permit for firearms dealers ended with no decision when Councilman David Durant had to leave the meeting early to catch a plane.
The council is scheduled to reconsider the proposal at its Nov. 4 meeting.
Under the proposal, gun stores could not 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. Mayor Michael Harris has asked that the 1,000-foot location restriction also apply to colleges and universities.
Store owners and employees would have to pass a criminal-background check. Dealers also would have to install an alarm system and surveillance cameras.
Existing firearms dealers would be exempt from the new location restrictions, but they would have to submit employees' background information to the Pleasant Hill police. The sole dealer in the city with a home occupancy permit to sell guns would be allowed to continue operating, but no new permits for residential sales would be granted if the council approves the ordinance.
Police Chief John Moore has said his department has not had any problems with the four firearms dealers in Pleasant Hill. Dick's Sporting Goods, which is being built in the Crossroads Shopping Center, also is expected to sell guns.
City Arms owner Yan Traytel said he'll leave Pleasant Hill if the council approves the ordinance because he won't be able to expand his store. But it's unclear how the city would handle a proposal to expand an existing gun shop, said planner Greg Fuz.
Critics believe the regulations are onerous and may drive the existing gun stores out of Pleasant Hill and discourage new ones from opening. To this list of concerns opponents on Monday added "incrementalism," the notion that while this ordinance won't stop gun sales, it's a step along the path to eroding Second Amendment rights.
"We have enough regulations already on the books with the state," said Pleasant Hill resident Anne Mobley. "And remember, I'm a voter. I'll vote you out if you approve this."
Supporters say the ordinance is a preventive measure that would enhance public safety and keep gun stores out of residential neighborhoods. They also say the regulations would provide a safety net if state legislators weaken California's gun laws in the future, or if unscrupulous gun dealers open stores in the city.
"This is not a Second Amendment issue; this is a zoning issue," said Sandra Bonato, a Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District board member. "This is about where businesses belong."
Although several gun organizations have threatened to sue if the council approves the ordinance, at least 32 California counties and cities have adopted similar rules, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national advocacy group.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.