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Petaluma City Council backs gun-control bill



The Petaluma City Council waded into the national gun control debate Monday night by backing a proposal to renew and broaden a federal ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Acting on a request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the council voted 6-1 to pass a resolution supporting reinstatement of the federal weapons ban that expired in 2004.

Feinstein is pushing a bill, which she said she plans to introduce next month, that would go further than the 1994 law she authored.

That law expired nine years ago, but mass shootings in Tucson, Ariz.; Aurora, Colo.; and Newtown, Conn., have energized calls for tighter restrictions on guns, particularly military-style rifles and large-capacity magazines.

Three people urged the council not to bring Petaluma into Second Amendment debates. No one spoke in favor of the resolution.

The proposed bill would prohibit the sale, import and manufacture of nearly 160 specific weapons, including the make of Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown school shootings, and ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.

Mayor David Glass said the “overwhelming sentiment” of Petalumans is supportive of restricting such weaponry.

“It’s not a takeaway of weapons,” he said.

Some officials around the country are sending letters to federal officials opposing new gun-control measures. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has said he plans a similar letter.

Councilman Mike Harris, the only Republican on Petaluma’s seven-member council, was the sole vote against the resolution.

He didn’t address gun owners’ rights or gun control efforts, instead arguing that the council shouldn’t delve into national debates.

“It is a slippery slope if we keep taking on federal issues,” he said. “What is next, are we going to start discussing the atrocities in Darfur or take a position on freeing Leonard Peltier or drone usage in Petaluma?

“We’re just inviting special interests to continue to come to Petaluma . . . and we won’t be able to get the city’s business done.”

Petaluma residents Don Weisenfluh and Richard Brawn both quoted from the Second Amendment.

The right to keep and bear arms is “wonderfully short, concise and absolute,” Brawn said.

“You took an oath to support what’s written right now in the Constitution,” Weisenfluh said, arguing council members were breaking their vows with the vote.

The resolution repeats numbers Feinstein has quoted, saying that since the federal ban expired, “assault weapons have been used in at least 459 incidents, resulting in 385 deaths and 455 injuries.”

It also added a line saying the lack of a federal law undermines California’s ban on certain assault-style weapons.

Feinstein’s proposal, modeled after California’s ban, would close a loophole in state law by barring the use of the “bullet button,” which can be used to quickly change magazines.

This month, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill that would prohibit bullet buttons. Certain weapons would only be allowed to have 10-round magazines that couldn’t be changed without dissembling the weapon.

Feinstein’s proposed bill wouldn’t require those who legally own assault weapons now to turn them in or register them. But if the guns were sold, the buyer would be subject to a background check.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

11 Responses to “Petaluma City Council backs gun-control bill”

  1. Phil Maher says:

    All personal thoughts on grandstanding and worthless gestures aside: This bill will never pass the House, it’s apparently common knowledge to most people that clearly understand the politics behind it. But for some reason, just not the Petaluma, Santa Rosa, or any of the other local City Councils that are sure to follow suit. What’s alarming (and quite similar to Petaluma’s recent ban on e-cigarettes prior to the research being far from conclusive)is that they voiced support prior to even having a bill to review or anything at all to actually read(kind of like Obamacare). Everyone knows that no House or Senate bills are ever “clean”. So really, there’s a huge potential that they might have just signed on to supporting the nasty requisite trailers that might not be exactly what they would have wanted. Goldman Sachs, Exxon and the 1% now wish to thank you for not looking before you leaped. It’s how they get what they need out of government. Although, it’s not as though what you have to say about anything means spit. But hey, as long as it makes you feel good and valuable, right?

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  2. Graeme Wellington says:

    Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm:


    This is an essay by David Mamet. Best thing I’ve read on the subject.

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  3. Paul says:

    Hey, it gives the ILLUSION that the city council is doing something.
    Seen your roads lately?
    Seen those public employee pensions lately?

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  4. John Hess says:

    And I’ll bet they think they really accomplished something. Hey, besides potholes, try catching (and NOT releasing) graffittists who are ruining Petaluma’s “visible environment.”

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  5. Taxpayer says:


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  6. sheryl says:

    City councils need to deal with city issues. Are the potholes fixed? Are the parks clean? Are they allowing enough new business to keep people working? Anything else is not their concern. Besides who really cares how they feel on the gun debate?

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  7. Snarky says:

    Forget the “local” issues that “local” government is supposed to work on such as potholes.

    Uh, last I knew, Petaluma was known as the “pothole capital” of California, was it not?

    I believe the City of San Francisco once tried to pretend it had authority over guns within the city limit…. and found themselves grandstanding for nothing… as local government cannot dictate who can own what type of guns. :) That was only a few years back.

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  8. Jim says:

    This is the new city counsel, the without Tiffany Renae? I’m so glad the counsel protected us from the WWII boat that would have brought terrorists to Petaluma. Now they support a bill that did nothing when passed in 1994, but hey, who cares about whether new laws actually address problems?

    What are these figures that Feinstein is quoting and all these counsel jokers are regurgitating? Hey Ms. Feinstein, how many deaths occurred as a result of drunk drivers? 5,000? 10,000? Why not force a ban on drinks with high alcohol content? Why not force all car manufacturers to install breathalyzers in every car? That lunatic in New York, fellow Democrat Bloomberg, banned SODAS over 16 ounces. I think you could easily quote some figures related to alcohol and push something through. Oh wait, she owns a winery…can’t do that.

    @ Mr. Pendergast…How dare you suggest the Petaluma counsel address the horrific roads in Petaluma when there are children to think about! Think of the CHILDREN!!! Our Constitutional rights are no match when there are children! It is of no consequence that these gun restrictions only effect law abiding citizens. Criminals don’t wait 10 days for their firearms.

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  9. BigDogatPlay says:

    Once again the council spends time on something they have no need or purpose to spend time on, while the city’s real problems get deeper and deeper. Six members of the council have signed on to a proposal that, if carried through, would amount to the greatest violation of civil rights since Jim Crow.

    When is the next election again?

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  10. John Pendergast says:

    The Petaluma city council isn’t into boring things like fixing roads and maybe even putting another bridge over the river. Yawn. They love those hot button issues. The more meaningless and grandstanding the better.

    It’s not a traditional city council but more of an experimental college class that you get no credit for, yet everyone gets vegan cookies afterwards.

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  11. Over Easy says:

    It seems Petaluma is as whacky as Sebastopol.

    The city council could NOT have read the bill as it has NOT been introduced, but blindly supports it based on a hunch?

    Why is this important to Petaluma business? How about fixing the roads, straightening out the new Police Chief, doing something to stimulate jobs, feed the elderly, and stop the eastside gangs, or other important business.

    Nope instead lets pontificate about a anti-gun bill we know nothing about or have no bearing on. STUPID WASTE OF TIME

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