The City of Pleasant Hill, Calif. is a suburb of San Francisco. There has been controversy about selling guns in residential areas there for some time. In November the city counsel passed a comprehensive ordinance regulating gun stores which is now chapter 9.35 of the code of that city. It required that new stores could not be located in certain places and that employees must pass a criminal background check among other provisions. Another provision required that the store must purchase insurance.
The NRA was incensed and rallied opposition prior to the passage but the ordinance went through anyway. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. They have filed a lawsuit against Pleasant Hill and its city counsel to overturn this ordinance. The 106 page complaint is a mishmash of generalizations. The gun defending organizations file lots of this kind of lawsuit and have plenty of boiler plate to make them long and exhausting to read. They rarely win in court but many smaller governments resist passing such laws because of the expense of litigation. This suit shows its intention to intimidate by the fact that it lists 30 John Does as co-defendants with no definition of their role in the matter. These placeholders to drag others into the litigation will make anyone who is considering enforcement of the ordinance think carefully.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national advocacy group, arranged for San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest to defend the lawsuit pro bono for the city. Coincidentally, Laura Cutilletta, a staff attorney with the Law Center, and Laurie Mims, the attorney handling the case, both live in Pleasant Hill.
This case will be fought out over some time and the gun industry’s goal of using up the resources of advocates for guns safety will be achieved to some degree. I do believe that ultimately the city ordinance will stand. I’m not a lawyer or an expert on such law, but my BS detector is set off by the complaint. If the courts buy that stuff, shame on them. It would be especially helpful in my view to have a serious insurance requirement in place as an example of successfully demanding responsibility from gun businesses.