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Needles, California Votes to Become a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City”

Needles, California sits just across the Arizona border. As any attentive gun owners knows, the laws in that small stretch of space go from gun friendly to some of the most restrictive in the nation. Last month, the city of Needles declared itself to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City.” Readers will likely be familiar with the term “sanctuary city,” referring to cities that have adopted policies not to help the federal government enforce immigration laws. While at first blush, comparing the two would lead readers to believe that Needles would either not enforce federal or state law, that is sadly not the case.

The vote directed the city's attorney to draw up a resolution to send to the legislature which would ask for permission to allow licensed gun owners traveling from other states to carry firearms in their town. The city also plans to request the legislature make some changes to the new background check law for ammunition that went into effect on July 1st. Under the new law, a person purchasing ammunition must undergo a background check. On top of that, a person can not bring ammunition into the state. Needles is about 100 miles from any other California town and there are places much closer for its residents in Arizona where they go to purchase ammunition.

What it Means

From a practical standpoint, the vote to declare Needles a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City” is meaningless and in name only, especially when compared to the action that some counties and Sheriffs in New Mexico and Washington have taken. In those instances, more overt action occurred, as the Sheriffs declared that they would avoid enforcement on certain laws that have recently been passed affecting gun rights. On top of that refusal to enforce the law, some counties declared themselves to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

Even if that had occurred, there is no guarantee that the state's law would not be enforced. The city does not have its own police department, which means that it could not direct its officers to ignore the law, which would have put more “teeth” into the declaration. The city contracts its police services to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. In order to have any effect, the Sheriff would have to order his deputies to not enforce the law. Even if that occurred, it would leave the State Police as potential enforcers. However, with a population of only 5,000 people and the distance to the next closest town, it seems rather unlikely the state would devote the resources to do so.

About the Author

Adam Kraut is a firearms law attorney practicing in southeastern PA and across the country federally. He hosts The Legal Brief, a show dedicated to crushing the various myths and misinformation around various areas of the gun world. He was also the general manager of a gun store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Instagram: @theadamkraut
Twitter: @theadamkraut

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