Council introduces ordinance to outlaw hidden guns in ‘sensitive’ places | Los Gatan

Concealed Carry

On June 20, Los Gatos introduced an ordinance that would prohibit concealed carry permit holders from bringing their firearms to specific places around town.

But in contrast with the hardline positions staked-out on both sides of the gun debate across the United States—with National Rifle Association members claiming guns in classrooms would help solve things and progressives deriding mental health as the primary causal factor in shooting sprees—here in Los Gatos, everyone seemed to appreciate the new rules being proposed.

According to State law, police chiefs can issue concealed carry licenses to firearm owners, and the Town already has an ordinance that outlines how that works.

June 20 was quite the tranquil night—both inside and outside Town Hall.

However, in 2022, the Supreme Court stated, in State of New York vs. Bruen, that it’s unlawful to include a “good cause” requirement for obtaining a concealed carry license, Town Attorney Gabrielle Whelan said.

It also ruled municipalities can prohibit concealed carry firearms in “sensitive” places.

Los Gatos has taken a “conservative” approach by only including places that have already been upheld by the courts, the Town Attorney said, noting this includes places of worship, polling places, government buildings, schools and public transit.

The Town has already been dealing with 11 parties who are interested in getting a concealed carry license, Whelan said.

Town Attorney Gabrielle Whelan
Town Attorney Gabrielle Whelan said the ordinance only prohibits guns in areas upheld by courts. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Mayor Maria Ristow asked about why hospitals weren’t considered a sensitive place in the local ordinance.

Whelan said the Southern Californian city of Glendale tried to adopt a more expansive ordinance and is now caught up in a legal fight, whereas the places Los Gatos picked have all been affirmed through court decisions.

Ristow said she was OK with that.

Mayor Maria Ristow
Mayor Maria Ristow said she approved of how staff was handling the gun issue. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“To my mind it’s important to get something in-place, and not to be spending the next six months in litigation, but to move forward with something we feel can happen,” she said. “I appreciate that approach.”

Heidi Owens, a Los Gatos mother of two girls who’s a member of Mothers Demand Action, said she was in favor of what Los Gatos was considering.

Gun violence has become a normal topic of conversation at Los Gatos schools, she told Council members during public comment, recalling a conversation she had in the wake of one campus shooting in America (although there’s been so many, she said she couldn’t remember which).

“I remember standing outside of kindergarten talking to other moms about the merits of bulletproof backpacks,” she said. “It’s just sad that that’s the way it is in our country right now.”

With political dysfunction the order of the day at the federal level and slow progress at the state level, local action is critical, she added.

“Don’t underestimate your ability to lead on this, or any other issue,” she said. “I think approving this will have more influence than you realize.”

Another MDA member, Erica Mittelhauser, said she, too, was encouraged to see Los Gatos bring such an ordinance to the floor.

public commenter
Erica Mittelhauser said she appreciated Los Gatos proceeding in a “common sense” manner. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“I would like us as a community to do what we can to protect the public and our citizens,” she said. “In addition, I’m hopeful that this topic will lead to further discussion, in particular on the possibility of a safe storage ordinance, like our neighboring towns and cities have, including Monte Sereno.”

Marie Rector, a 20-year employee of Los Gatos High School, said this move by Council will help positively distinguish the community.

gun rights proponent
Jared Ajlouny of Los Gatos said the process to obtain a concealed carry license is “pretty thorough” through the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“It’s with great pride that I’m watching you consider this ordinance, because taking the lead in something like this in our town is just one more example of how we lead, how we step forward and do the right thing, for our students and our population,” she said. “I’m very proud of the Town. I encourage you to move forward with this ordinance.”

Jared Ajlouny, a Los Gatos resident, said he hadn’t been planning on speaking on the item, but after seeing some of the comments in the public record he wanted to share about his experience going through the “carrying a concealed weapon” process in Santa Clara County.

“I was recently approved for CCW in Santa Clara County—through the County,” he said. “The process is pretty thorough. There’s an interview with the Sheriff’s Office. You have a DOJ, FBI background check, a psych test and evaluation, 16 hours of training, a shooting proficiency test, and the total costs were over $1,000.”

He said he wouldn’t be against the Town following that sort of procedure, and told the Los Gatan he was happy with the local ordinance.

“It’s not like everybody’s getting a CCW,” he said during public comment. “It’s a lot of work to go through the process.”

The Town Attorney told Council there will be a requirement for a mental evaluation and for training.

During his comments, Ajlouny said it seemed, to him, like Los Gatos was duplicating certain elements already in-place on a regional level.

He bookended his input with this:

“Unfortunately, idealism and reality are two different things,” he said. “Law-abiding citizens follow laws; criminals do not.”

Los Gatos resident
Los Gatos resident Fred Faltersack said he’s glad properly-licensed firearm owners can carry guns in places the Town doesn’t consider sensitive. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Fred Faltersack, a Los Gatos resident of 37 years, also spoke to the gun rights angle.

“I wasn’t planning on speaking here either,” he began. “I just wanted to briefly say that I feel I am also representing moms and dads who demand action for common gun sense in America.”

The ability for law-abiding citizens to conceal carry and to be present “—at wherever it may be determined legal, whether it be churches, schools, in public places,” is common sense and will save lives, he said.

Faltersack confirmed with the Los Gatan that he was happy with the Los Gatos approach.

Mittelhauser also said she was pleased with the outcome, also.

It still needs to be confirmed with another vote at a future meeting.

“I’m very happy about how amenable Los Gatos Council was to introducing the ordinance,” she said on her way out of the building. “Common sense prevails.”

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