While Congress spins its wheels accomplishing nothing to stem the control of gun violence in our nation, some states are taking quick action to regulate the sale and possession of guns. Since the Parkland massacre:
- Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island to sign an executive order to establish a policy to take guns away from people who pose a danger to themselves or others.
- Oregon’s House passed a bill making it illegal for people convicted of domestic violence or those with restraining orders against them to possess weapons, even if they are not married to, do not live with, or do not have children with their victims. The State Senate is expected to pass the bill and the Governor has promised to sign it.
- Other states, including Florida, Vermont, Washington, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota, and Texas are actively considering gun control legislation.
Today, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would stop selling assault style rifles and would halt all gun sales to those below age 21. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and a major seller of firearms, announced it would stop selling the military-style semiautomatic weapons in August 2015.
Yet, given Congress’ inaction, the failure of most states to enact strong gun control laws, and purely voluntary measures by retailers, gun control advocates should also consider engaging their local communities to zone out gun sales. Indeed, that is exactly what Madison, Wisconsin has done for many years regarding handgun sales.
Madison Ordinance Chapter 28.151 applies the following zoning restrictions to handgun shops:
(b) No handgunshop shall be located within one thousand (1000) feet of any church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other place of worship; a lot in a residence district, either in the City of Madison or in a municipality adjacent to the City of Madison; a Planned Mobile Home Park District, Planned Development District with dwelling units; a public or private playground; a day care center; a public library, a youth recreation area, including little league baseball fields, soccer fields or YMCA/YWCA.
(c) No handgunshop shall be located in the same building where alcohol beverages are sold.
(d) No handgunshop shall be located in the same building where any patron thereof under the age of eighteen (18) years may enter, unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult spouse eighteen (18) years of age or over.
This well crafted ordinance steers clear of an outright ban on handgun shops to avoid a Second Amendment challenge, but it effectively bans them by applying reasonable zoning regulations to make it nearly impossible to locate a handgun shop in Madison. Indeed, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart do not sell handguns in Madison due to this zoning regulation.
For some perspective on the number of gun shops in the United States, consider the following data:
- In the US, there are approximately 50,271 more gun stores than McDonald’s. Specifically, there are 14,146 McDonald’s (as of December 2016) and 64,417 firearm dealers nationwide (as of September 2017).
- There are approximately 32,927 more gun stores than coffee shops (31,490 as of December 2015).
- There are approximately 39,017 more gun stores than grocery stores (25,400 as of December 2016).
- There are approximately 3,578 more gun stores than pharmacies (60,839 as of 2014).
Since Congress members’ thoughts and prayers will fail to save a single life, and many states will fail to enact reasonable gun control legislation, gun control advocates across the nation should apply pressure to their city councils and mayors to enact and strengthen zoning ordinances to effectively control the sale of guns in their city limits. While the NRA will surely fight such efforts, requiring it to spread its efforts at federal, state and local levels will diminish the NRA’s effectiveness and finally allow gun control advocates to gain the upper hand.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.