After months of meeting and soliciting community input, the Morgan Hill City Council is set to vote on the adoption of an ordinance that would make gun laws stricter within city limits.
Councilmembers is set to consider accepting the ordinance drafted by City Attorney Don Larkin at the Oct. 24 council meeting. The draft ordinance was completed after two meetings where the public was invited to discuss proposals for the ordinance and drafts.
The current version of the ordinance has seven points, addressing a permit for discharging weapons outside a designated range, licensed dealers posting regulations, reporting firearm loss or theft to the Morgan Hill Police Department, storing a firearm when not in a home, a regulation on high capacity magazines, confiscation if a person violates the ordinance terms and violation of the ordinance.
Following the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, students across the country protested U.S. gun regulation. Morgan Hill students joined the National School Walkouts on March 14, and city council members responded.
After talks with local high school students, councilmembers decided to move forward with a proposed ordinance to regulate guns in Morgan Hill, which Larkin said had been long discussed by the council.
On March 7, the City Council adopted a resolution condemning gun violence. Community members who voiced concerns at that meeting were then invited to a small roundtable meeting Aug. 8 to discuss a proposed ordinance.
Council members Rich Constantine and Rene Spring were present at an informal meeting Aug. 8, where a select group of residents who had spoken up at the March 7 meeting were invited to voice their thoughts on the proposed aspects of the ordinance.
Larkin and Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing also attended.
The meeting did not result in any clear compromise, but Larkin told the Times the ideas he heard helped him to make changes and write a complete draft.
At the Aug. 8 meeting, a majority of the attendees advocated for increased gun safety education as opposed to regulation. City Engagement and Communication Manager Maureen Tobin told the Times these may be additional requests made by the City Council, but would not be a part of the ordinance.
Dave Truslow was at the August meeting and had many recommendations for the city about how the ordinance should be amended. He said he was ultimately still unhappy with the way the ordinance had turned out.
Truslow believes the most recent draft of the ordinance won’t make a difference and has language that is not clear enough.
“They’re missing an opportunity to clean this thing up,” said Truslow. “It doesn’t cover lots of things that would be reasonable safe uses.”
At the August meeting, Councilmembers Constantine and Spring had said the ordinance would be worth something even if it only saved one life.
Many of the proposals elaborated on existing California gun laws. Reporting lost or stolen firearms to the Morgan Hill Police Department would be specifying California law, which requires reporting to local law enforcement.
Larkin said there are many local law enforcement agencies and that the specification in a city ordinance would clarify the laws.
A similar ordinance passed in Sunnyvale was upheld in court, and Larkin said he created the proposed Morgan Hill ordinance following the same legal guidelines. “I think the factors that made it okay in Sunnyvale apply to Morgan Hill,” said Larkin.
Large-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are also illegal in California if they were purchased after the year 2000.
Following the announcement of the ordinance, the city accepted public comments until Oct. 5.
The meeting is expected to take place Oct. 24, like all council meetings it is open to the public and will be held at 17555 Peak Ave at . The council will either choose to adopt the ordinance, make recommendations to have the ordinance amended or vote it down.
The full text of the ordinance can be found at https://www.morgan-hill.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/23695/Draft-Firearms-Ordinance