By Guy Marzorati

(Joe Klamar/AFP-Getty Images)
(Joe Klamar/AFP-Getty Images)

Tony Spitaleri, the mayor of Silicon Valley suburb Sunnyvale, had grown tired of national and state inaction on gun control. Fearing the possibility of a Newtown-type shooting rocking the quiet community of 140,000, he introduced a series of measures he believed could curb the possibility of both accidental shootings and larger-scale violence in the city.

After trimming down the proposed items, the city council voted in June to place Measure C on the November ballot, which Sunnyvale voters will vote on next Tuesday. Measure C includes four separate gun control provisions:

  • Reporting lost or stolen firearms: The police must be notified about the loss or theft of a firearm within 48 hours of the time known or “reasonably should have known” about the loss.
  • Storage: Firearms in residences would have to be stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock if they are not in the immediate possession of the owner.
  • Ammunition: Prohibits the possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds (not just the buying or selling which is already outlawed statewide).
  • Logging ammo sales: Mandates the logging of all ammunition sales within Sunnyvale.

Four measures similar to these passed the State Senate in Sacramento this year, but none eventually became law. The looming question over the Measure C debate is whether the initiative addresses a problem of gun violence that simply doesn’t exist in Sunnyvale; the city had only two gunshot deaths in 2012.

The mayor says those focused on crime are missing the point of Measure C. “This is not about reducing crime,” he explained. “It’s about having a safe environment where your guns are and having a safe way of doing business with a gun.”

Spitaleri has led Sunnyvale Citizens for Sensible Gun Measures, the pro-Measure C group which has received contributions from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. The group has faced little local competition thus far.

Steve Sarette, a member of Sunnyvale Citizens for a Better Community, the group opposing Measure C, estimates his group has spent only $300 to oppose Measure C. “There aren’t very many of us,” he said. “In terms of outreach to the community, we’ve handed out some fliers and that’s it.”

Measure C’s greatest challenge will come if it passes. The National Rifle Association has promised to challenge the initiative in court, in particular the provision prohibiting possession of larger-capacity magazines. Opponents of the measure believe that Sunnyvale is acting as a pawn of Mayor Bloomberg, and that the city will face the same kind of legal battles the NRA has waged against larger cities.

“Is it really Sunnyvale’s fight to adopt this package of ordinances?” asked Sean Brady, an attorney with Michel & Associates, West Coast counsel for the NRA. “Are they willing to pay the cost to be in the big leagues with Chicago and Washington D.C. on this litigation front?”

Spitaleri seems unafraid of facing off against the powerful gun lobby. His term expires at the end of this year, and he plans to spend his time out of office trying to push for gun control measures in other cities, beginning with neighboring Mountain View in 2014.

He likens his local gun control effort to the plastic bag ban that started in San Jose in 2009 and subsequently spread across the South Bay.

“If it starts at the local level, it will resonate up. [The plastic bag ban] started in one city and then it went to another city, and another city. It’s got to start somewhere.”

Is Gun Control in Low-Crime Sunnyvale Needed or Not? 29 October,2013KQED News Staff

  • drnoyfb

    Spitaleri is an idiot, and I’m glad he’s finally going to be out of office. He’s wasting Sunnyvale’s money with a redundant law (locked container/trigger lock) and driving business into other cities. He obviously hasn’t done his homework.

    • Good, making the gun nuts spend more money moving around is not a bad idea.

      • wfcollins

        47% of American households own at least one gun. Are they all nuts?

        • Pretty much! There are very, very, very very few stories of the guns actually coming in handy. Gun violence stories on the other hand…

          • Sifaka

            The CDC sponsored report that Obama signed an executive order to get stated that guns are used 3,000,000 times defensively in a year. And in the very least are used as much as in gun crime.

          • notfishing

            Government figures from the National Survey of Criminal Victimization suggest 100,000 uses a year of guns in self-defense against crime, the vast majority of these uses being the display of weapons to deter or dissuade.

            Liberal news sources rarely report defensive firearms uses – it goes against their religion.

          • Dave

            Now why do you suppose that is smart-ass? Because the mainstream media ONLY covers the gun violence stories. You don’t hear about the literally millions of times firearms are used to protect people from crimes. There have been numerous studies that show guns are used over 2.5 million times each year to protect aginst home invasions, rapes, etc… Do your research idiot. The mainstream media doesn’t want you to know this information but it would go against their socialist agenda.

          • Sparafucile

            I can give you one or two. You don’t think the press cares about those, do you?

            (Man, you’re dumb.)

      • Sifaka

        I see you wish to punish those you disagree with. Schadenfreude for people you don’t even know. Tisk tisk…..

        Sadists, and their sanctimonious reasoning. How can a person that wants so much to do the greater good, take so much joy in the anguish of others.

        This exhibited moral paradox does not exactly equip you to make choices for others.

      • Sparafucile

        Perhaps, Yamanoor, you don’t know that when a law is invalidated by court action, the prevailing party collects attorney’s fees and costs? Just look at the number of check San Francisco has had to write directly to the NRA and SAF.

  • Jason McConnnell

    Ridiculous waste of time and money. I am a gun safety advocate, and I would fully support a national ban on weapons used in at the Sandy Hill tragedy, but a redundant local ordnance would do absolutely ZERO to make Sunnyvale safer and would just waste the city’s resources fighting the NRA in court. Dumb! Use the city’s money to make real improvements, and not to advance Mayor Spitaleri’s political career.

    • wfcollins

      To what end would you support banning the AR15? Any weapon could be used in a school with unarmed teachers and defenseless kids. Handguns are used in the vast majority of murders with just one or a few bullets. AR15’s represent a minute portion of the total murders.

      • I see, since any gun can be used, nothing should be done. Bravo!

        • Sifaka

          Well, yeah. If a gun that is not banned can yield the same, or worse result, than why should we pass such a measure? That’s like saying soda makes you fat, and only banning Coke, but leaving Pepsi on the market.

          Typically, you don’t limit a right you don’t have to. What is so special about an AR-15, or semi-automatic rifles like it?

        • wfcollins

          My response did not imply nothing should be done. It just makes no sense to me that people target a particular rifle when it is used in so few crimes. There are millions of AR15 rifles and over 100 million of all types of rifles out there. Rifles were only used in about 350 murders last year.

          What should be done is to isolate violent people from the rest of us. The first use of a gun in a violent crime should be cause for permanent isolation. No parole. If this happens at a young age, we might catch them before they can reproduce.

    • Sparafucile

      Let me get this straight: you support an outright ban of a rifle that is peacably and responsibly used by 5,000,000 Americans, because it was misused by two certifiable nutjobs??

      I wonder what other failures you can exhibit of comprehending risk and statistics.

      You probably drive your kids to school because you have a statistically-unsupportable fear of stranger abduction. You do, don’t you?

    • Pete L

      Yea like FINISH the downtown area….5th bankruptcy from what I read and heard

  • H3adHunt3r

    Gun control isn’t about safety for the people, It’s all about money and power
    for the bureaucrats. Gun Control works well only for those controlling the guns
    (which is our spoiled and pompous government).

    • Sparafucile

      That’s why all termed-out politicians supporting this idiotic measure are lining up for their Bloomberg Money. It’s more reliable than an ObamaPhone!

  • Charity Saxton

    I believe Spitaleri sucked Bloomey dry for the $3,000 Bloomey provided

  • Sifaka

    Sometimes because you can pass something, does not mean you should.

    Further limiting a right that has in no way been problematic to this community is almost spiteful. Rights are not play things. You really have to justify your actions when you are talking about limitation. You are leaving the door open for governmental abuse.

    If we wanted a government that didn’t have to acknowledge rights, we wouldn’t have even bothered with the bill of rights.

  • David Phillips

    Pass whatever you want. Jaywalking is illegal too.

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