OAKLEY -- The city tweaked its rules this week to ban the sale of ammunition in residential neighborhoods.

Although Oakley City Council initially considered prohibiting home-based gunsmithing businesses as well, it discarded that idea.

The 3-2 vote doesn't change the city's existing prohibition on residential firearms sales.

Council members took up the matter after someone contacted City Hall wanting to open a home-based gun-related business.

Much of the discussion revolved around differences between federal and local laws pertaining to gun sales and service.

The permits that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issues don't make a distinction between firearms dealers and those who work on guns. As a result, individuals who want to start a business servicing firearms also have the right to sell them as long as they comply with state and local laws, as well.

Oakley allows one of those activities in residential neighborhoods but not the other: Although gunsmiths may work out of their homes, the city adopted an urgency ordinance in June 2011 prohibiting startup businesses from selling guns in or near residential areas.

Council members toyed with the idea of trying to shore up that ordinance by asking ATF to place a restriction on the licenses it issues gunsmiths, limiting whatever firearms they sell to commercially zoned areas.


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Asked to weigh in on the matter, police Chief Bani Kollo expressed doubt that agency would support such a prohibition.

"I don't believe ATF is going to become the investigative arm of Oakley," he said.

But Councilman Randy Pope pointed out that there's no conflict between federal and local laws.

"I really don't see the bind," he said, noting that those who receive a federal firearms license still must obey city ordinances.

Mayor Kevin Romick would have liked to limit commercial gunsmithing to stores.

"I just don't think it's an appropriate home business," Romick said.

Although he, along with Councilwoman Carol Rios, cast the dissenting vote, it was because the motion called for two actions: banning residential ammunition sales but allowing gunsmithing.

He wanted both activities banned, Romick said, but that wasn't an option under Pope's motion.

Romick emphasized that even though businesses can't sell ammunition near homes, individuals still can pack their own shells with gunpowder.

Once gunsmiths have their license, their address becomes public record, which increases the chances of break-ins by burglars looking for guns, he said.

But Pope proposed restricting ammunition sales only because he didn't want to undermine small enterprise by preventing gunsmiths from working out of their homes.

"I want to make sure we're not throwing the baby out with the bath water," he said, noting that Oakley's only gun shop must rely on this source of help because it doesn't have a gunsmith on staff.

Hook, Line & Sinker owner Gene Buchholz confirmed that his business uses the services of a home-based gunsmithing business in Brentwood for work such as repairing firing pins, mounting scopes and disassembling weapons for cleaning.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/rowenacoetsee.