PLEASANT HILL -- The Contra Costa chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has endorsed three City Council candidates who support a ban on home gun sales.
The group, which advocates for federal and state gun laws, has endorsed retired businessman Jim Bonato, Concord police officer Ken Carlson and Jeremy Cloward, an adjunct professor at Diablo Valley College.
The Brady Campaign asked all of the candidates except incumbent Councilman David Durant, if they "support and will work to enact and implement a local ordinance banning home occupation gun dealers."
Tim Flaherty, Michael Flake and Matthew Rinn did not agree with the statement; and Jessica Braverman hasn't met with the Brady Campaign yet. Three council seats will be on the November ballot.
This issue arose in the spring when Brady Campaign members learned that an online firearms business is operating from a Pleasant Hill condominium.
In October, the city approved Rico Tedjakusuma's request for a home occupation permit for an office for LNC Arms, an online firearms business. Tedjakusuma listed a condominium on Scottsdale Road in the Tres Lagos North development as the business address on his permit application.
Tedjakusuma is a federally licensed firearms dealer and has passed criminal background checks by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the state Department of Justice, according to Pleasant Hill police.
Tedjakusuma's home occupation permit is for a home office only, and it prohibits him from selling or delivering guns to customers at his residence. Pleasant Hill's zoning code does not require public notice or a public hearing for a home occupation use as an office, so the council never reviewed Tedjakusuma's proposal.
Although Tedjakusuma wrote on the permit application that he "will not be a stocking dealer," he can store an unlimited number of firearms inside his home. The LNC Arms website says the site is under construction, so it is unclear if Tedjakusuma is selling firearms.
Although the council agreed in May to hold a workshop to review home gun sales, one has not been scheduled.
"I think our energies would go into the new council. I don't think we can expect anything out of this council, the will isn't there to take this on," said Karen Arntzen, a Pleasant Hill resident and a member of the Contra Costa chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The group routinely endorses candidates for county supervisor and state legislative office, but this is only the second time it has weighed in on a City Council race, according to Arntzen. She said Durant did not receive a survey because the Brady Campaign believes he has failed to take action on the issue. Durant could not be reached for comment.
Supporters of a ban on home gun dealers cited concerns about safety and lack of oversight.
"I just don't want gun dealers in my neighborhoods and I don't think it's an appropriate place for them," said Carlson, a 23-year veteran of the Concord police force. "Even if they're just doing out-of-state transfers or gun transfers they still have to hold the inventory for the time the waiting period is going on, so you're going to have some inventory in a neighborhood and I just don't like that idea."
Bonato said he is honored to have the group's endorsement.
"We don't have the same opportunity to regulate and police as we would a storefront business that is selling weapons," Bonato said. "Secondly, what I'm concerned about is, if there are abuses, not only if there are abuses, there is opportunity for that home to be targeted for a break-in if there are arms and ammunition stored in the house. This is a target that puts other homes in the neighborhood at risk."
Rinn, an insurance agent, said he is comfortable with an online gun business, as long as people do not sell firearms from their homes. Although Flaherty and Flake declined to pledge support for a strict ban on home gun sales, they believe the city should study the issue.
Flaherty, an attorney, said he's willing to consider regulations if opponents demonstrate that home occupation gun dealers pose a health and safety risk to the community.
Flake, an engineer, suggested specific conditions the city might impose.
"I'm willing to look into the matter, and maybe we need an ordinance for regulating it in terms of how many weapons can (Tedjakusuma) have and making sure there's a safety inspection once a year, by say the police department," he said. "But outright banning is something I'm definitely against."
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
What: Pleasant Hill City Council Candidates Forum
When: 7-9 p.m., Oct. 3
Where: Pleasant Hill City Hall,
100 Gregory Lane