Mountain View City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve stricter gun control measures that ban firearms on all city-owned property. Council members also agreed to pursue tighter rules on safe storage of guns.
The new ordinance is a direct response to mass shooting incidents across the country, including the 2019 Gilroy Garlic festival shooting and the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The council for years has pursued local gun control laws that go above and beyond state and federal regulations.
The law bans possession of firearms -- including handguns and long guns, loaded or unloaded -- on any property owned, leased or subleased by the city. Doing so would encompass all parks and recreational facilities, including Shoreline Lake, the city's golf course, Rengstorff House and the Adobe Building. Many of these locations already prohibited firearms, but the ordinance expands the list of properties.
"Locations such as these are where a large number of youth and adults congregate, making them appealing for someone intending to inflict a high number of casualties," according to a city staff report.
Violating the rules would amount to a misdemeanor offense, though police are not expected to proactively stop and search people for guns. People hit with the violation -- which carries a fine and possible jail time -- will likely have been stopped for other suspected criminal activity.
Though the vote Tuesday places greater restrictions atop the state's already powerful gun control laws, some council members have called it a good "first step" in catching up with other Bay Area cities. Sunnyvale, for example, has an ordinance banning large-capacity magazines, restricting ammunition sales and requiring the safe storage of firearms.
Speakers at the meeting, all in support of the new law, pushed the council to follow suit and adopt stringent gun storage measures as well. They pointed to an incident in Texas over the weekend in which a 3-year-old fatally shot his 8-month-old brother at home.
Resident Kelly Traver urged the council to adopt a safe storage ordinance, and said the state's penal code is fairly lax in requiring that firearms be secured in a location not accessible by children. That means people are frequently placing guns in the garage, in between mattresses or on top of the fridge, she said, which is not enough.
Many school shootings involve a current or former student who took an unsecured firearm to campus, Traver said.
"I do not want Mountain View to have that happen," she said.
The idea came up in January last year among a menu of options to crack down on guns in Mountain View, which included multiple measures to restrict gun sales in the city. Council members at the time opted not to pursue most of the options due to constraints in staff time. City officials also cautioned that enforcement would be difficult, and that police officers cannot proactively search homes or vehicles for compliance.
Despite the initially cautious approach, council members rallied behind the idea of tighter gun storage rules, agreeing to have staff come back and formally add it to the list of priorities this year. City Attorney Krishan Chopra said the ordinance could be drafted and come before council for approval by the end of the year.
Though the gun control ordinance passed Tuesday was the end of a yearslong response to mass shootings in 2017 and 2018, the City Council tacked on more incidents of "random acts of mayhem and violence using firearms" in the United States. The list includes the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the spa shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and the King Soopers supermarket shooting in Boulder, Colorado, last month.