Our Dear Sunnyvale Becomes the Next Big Gun Control Battleground

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 07, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Apparently, there was an election this week. No one really noticed, as the election mostly covered local measures. In fact, so little attention was paid that the City of Sunnyvale, the proud home of LinkedIn, FindLaw, and numerous other tech heavyweights, tacked a measure onto the ballot that passed 66 to 33 percent, and which will almost certainly lead to years of litigation.

What did Measure C do? It merely incorporates, on a city-wide level, a handful of gun control efforts that were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown just last month, and of course, implicates the Second and Fifth Amendments.

Measure C: What it Does

Ballotpedia provides the commendable and complete coverage of the ordinance, including the arguments for and against its passage. The gist of the ordinance is that it:

  1. requires reporting to police, within 48 hours, known loss or theft of a firearm;
  2. requires storage of firearms in residences in a locked container or disabling them with a trigger lock when not in the owner's immediate possession;
  3. prohibits the possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, with certain exceptions; and
  4. requires stores to log and track ammunition sales within the City of Sunnyvale for two years.

Measure C: Why It'll be Challenged

Well, let's be honest: regardless of the substance of the restrictions, any gun control law passed in this country is pretty much guaranteed to go to court.

That being said, the magazine size restriction is especially problematic, as it does not exempt "pre-ban" magazines, as state law does. Gun rights advocates are likely going to be arguing that the new law amounts to a taking of property without compensation.

In fact, they began signing up plaintiffs before the election even happened, reports The Washington Post.

National Battle Goes Local

"I don't think it's an understatement to say there is currently an epic legal battle going on for the future of the Second Amendment in this country," Chuck Michel, the attorney representing gun owners told the San Jose Mercury News, "and Sunnyvale is just one very small part of it."

Small or big, the impact of the battle could have far-reaching effects. Not only are neighboring cities eying the Sunnyvale ordinance to see if it would pass muster in their towns, but it could lay the blueprint for city-by-city gun regulations, in lieu of recently-failed attempts at the state and national level. Or, the city could spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers money defending the ordinance in court, with nothing but publicity to show for it.

Michel noted that, "The magazine restriction goes further than any other magazine ban in the country," and warned that with the NRA's backing, "The fight to protect the rights of Sunnyvale residents isn't over."

As for the practical effect of the law for us locals, it may be minimal, as enforcing gun storage laws are difficult at best, and as Mayor Tony Spitaleri noted, "We're not going to be knocking on people's doors."

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