ENCINITAS — City Council recently took a stand in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High mass shooting, adopting a resolution urging lawmakers to take steps to curb gun violence.
But the support for the resolution wasn’t unanimous, as one councilman objected to several of the provisions in the resolution, and one prominent gun-rights activist called the resolution’s sentiments “offensive and intolerant.”
Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca and council members Tasha Boerner Horvath and Tony Kranz joined Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who sponsored the resolution, in supporting it.
The resolution was identical to one the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission considered earlier this month, authored by gun-safety advocate Steve Bartram.
“You can’t even imagine it, when you have children, and gun deaths are the third leading cause of death for American children and it’s not the case in other high-income countries like ours,” Blakespear said. “We have elevated voices as elected officials and I put this on our agendas because I think we need to do more to pressure federal officials.”
The resolution calls for universal background checks, a ban on semi-automatic weapons, accessories that would boost a firearm’s capacity for ammunition or rate of fire; and a repeal of the so-called Dickey Amendment, passed by Congress in 1996, that bars the use of federal funds by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the advocacy or promotion of gun control.
The council added a provision throwing its support behind the Del Mar City Council’s recent push to have the state ban gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
“I’m not looking to infringe upon my friends who hunt,” Kranz said. “I recognize there are reasons to have weapons … but I support this resolution.”
Councilman Mark Muir voted against the resolution. His wife, Maureen, is a San Dieguito Union High School District board member and voted against a similar resolution.
Mark Muir said his opposition was based on several issues: he disagreed with the semi-automatic weapons ban, a provision that called on the city to voice its support for student protests and believed that the city shouldn’t wade into federal issues such as gun control.
“Background checks, mental health, bump stocks, armor piercing, education, all this is good stuff,” Muir said. “But there’s some stuff that I can’t accept. With semi-automatics, that’s not AK (sic)-15s, that’s a variety of guns, so I can’t accept that. Some of my hunter friends and Second Amendment friends will be discouraged with this.”
Muir said that it could lead down a “slippery slope,” where the council could take positions on other issues such as abortion rights.
“I don’t know where this goes,” Muir said. “We have all these federal conversations at a local level when I’m thinking we really need to be providing infrastructure, public safety and variety of other things, I have a tendency to be reluctant to get involved in things like this.”
Blakespear said that she didn’t anticipate the council would take further action, such as a local gun-control ordinance or related measures, but she would likely attend the next meeting of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which operates the fairgrounds, to convey the city’s support of Del Mar’s opposition to gun shows at the fairgrounds.
“The nature of a resolution is that it is symbolic,” Blakespear said. “Symbolism is really important to elevating the importance of the dialogue and sending a message up the line above us to show that we need federal action. If we send a resolution and others do too, that creates actions.”
Supporters of the Second Amendment panned the resolution and others like it being passed across the county.
Michael Schwartz, the executive director of the San Diego County Gun Owners, called the semi-automatic ban called for in the resolution “the most extreme anti-Second Amendment I have ever seen proposed.”
Schwartz also said he opposed any attempts to shut down gun shows at the fairgrounds.
“The Crossroads of the West gun show promotes and supports safe and legal firearms ownership and usage,” Schwartz said. “If you value legal and safe gun ownership and usage, you want the Crossroads gun show at Del Mar 5 times a year.”
Finally, Schwartz said that he believed the resolution would not result in any meaningful change.
“They are little more than an attempt to make gun owners appear dangerous,” Schwartz said. “Their sentiment is offensive and intolerant and (has) no place in serious public discourse.”