OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside City Council is urging Congress to reject a bill that would impose stricter gun control regulations on those who own or wish to own firearms.
Originally introduced in January to the House of Representatives, H.R. 127 proposes to establish a process for licensing and registration of firearms and prohibits possession of certain ammunition and large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Under this bill, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would be responsible for establishing and maintaining a publicly available database of all registered firearms. The DOJ would issue licenses only to individuals over 21 years old or older who complete a criminal background check, a psychological evaluation, a certified training course and who have insurance policies.
Councilmembers Chris Rodriguez and Kori Jensen came forward to Council requesting to write a letter rejecting the bill and sending it to Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) during the May 19 meeting.
According to Rodriguez, the bill would greatly impact Oceanside’s legal gun owners.
“In a city like Oceanside where there is a large military presence, where there are about 30,000 to 40,000 residents who are responsible gun owners who want to protect their families, H.R. 127 seeks to do many things that will violate those residents’ rights,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez took particular issue with the public database of registered firearms.
“That database could be accessed publicly, which means the public would know who owns weapons and who doesn’t,” he said.
Rodriguez and Jensen also took issue with the psychological evaluation requirement.
“At one point or another, every person’s medical record contains exclusionary criteria that could deny them their Second Amendment rights,” Jensen said.
Jensen noted that the psychological evaluations would have to be conducted by a licensed psychologist approved by the Attorney General, not independently, and would include interviewing and evaluating other members of the home as well as ex-spouses. She also suggested that the bill would keep people from seeking treatment for their mental and other health issues if it means losing their Second Amendment rights.
Deputy Mayor Ryan Keim also agreed that the bill isn’t good for Oceanside or the country as a whole, calling it an “absolute disaster” of a bill. He said the bill, if passed, would further burden the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), thus taking away from their focus on illegally acquired weapons.
Keim, who previously served as an Oceanside police officer, explained that from his experience most gun violence happened with illegal guns. During his time working with gang-related activity, none of the guns he recovered from gangs were registered to the individuals involved.
Police Chief Fred Armijo told Council that of the 108 violent crimes involving firearms committed in Oceanside in 2020, not a single one of them was registered to a suspect.
“Our problem is that gun violence in our city is committed by people not lawfully registering,” Armijo said.
For Armijo, the bill would not have an impact in addressing such gun violence in the city.
Some questioned the council’s need to write and send a letter to Levin regarding this bill.
Resident Roger Davenport suggested the bill was a means for Rodriguez to push his campaign for the 49th Congressional District seat, currently held by Levin, and said it would be “inappropriate” for the council to take a position on this bill.
Davenport also supported the bill, suggesting that most residents in the city and nation are in support of stricter gun laws.
Though Mayor Esther Sanchez didn’t necessarily see the issue of H.R. 127 as falling under the Council’s purview of issues related to the city, she agreed that the bill went too far and supported writing a letter after seeing her fellow councilmembers’ passion against the bill.
Sanchez also noted that the bill has been stuck in committee for months and is not likely to pass. She also urged Council to focus on issues that could improve Oceanside, especially with $32.3 million in COVID-19 relief funds on its way.
“As we go forward it’s important that we focus on things we can do here in Oceanside, but certainly constitutional rights are important to every one of us,” Sanchez said.
With a unanimous vote of approval, Council directed staff to write and mail an opposition letter to Levin’s office.