By Khalida Sarwari
Starting next month, no one younger than 21 will be allowed to buy a semi-automatic centerfire rifle from any of Sunnyvale’s five gun shops.
In the wake of school shootings around the nation, the City Council this week unanimously decided to raise the minimum age for buying guns from 18 to 21, making Sunnyvale the first city in Santa Clara County to do so.
Mayor Glenn Hendricks said the council’s action wasn’t spurred by fear that gun violence could roil the city as much as it was by an opportunity to take a stance he’d rather see the state adopt.
“I believe that this is a correction to the gap that exists in California’s already very strict gun laws,” he said. “In absence of that, we will step in and do what we need to do to help protect our residents.”
Several gun control measures have already been introduced by lawmakers this year and are awaiting hearings. State Sen. Anthony Portantino, for example, is pushing a bill that would not only raise the minimum age for firearms purchases but would also ban anyone from buying more than one gun in 30 days.
Meanwhile, the state already has a 10-day waiting period for all firearm purchases, transfers and private sales, and it enforces background checks for private sales.
Hendricks acknowledged Sunnyvale is a safe city, a point underscored by city spokeswoman Jennifer Garnett, who noted that of the 28 reported aggravated assaults that took place between April and June, only two involved the use of a firearm.
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said he thinks the city is opening itself up to a lawsuit. He said Sunnyvale’s ordinance, which would go into effect in mid-September following its official adoption on Aug. 14, is unlawful under state and federal law.
“They’re insincere and inconsistent in trying to address the deaths of young people,” Paredes said. “This is not going to stop any school violence; what this is going to go after is youth trap and skeet shooting teams.”
He said the ordinance discriminates against law-abiding citizens, including off-duty military, although active-duty military and law enforcement officers would be exempted.
Hendricks said he came up with the proposal after a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 rifle killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.
“No single one rule or law is going to deal with and address all violence that goes on in America,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent something from happening and we hope the state is able to move forward with a similar type of action.”