Town Attorney Gabrielle Whelan said Sept. 5 in her closed session report that the Town Council had met in private to discuss a legal threat from the gun lobby, which asked Los Gatos to delay enforcing its new concealed carry ordinance on public transit, in places of worship and in civic buildings where government business doesn’t occur.
Konstadinos T. Moros, of Michel & Associates, which represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association, told the Los Gatan they came up with a compromise where the firm agreed not to sue over a location-based hidden gun ban in some places—including the Los Gatos Library and the Civic Center—as long as the Town allows firearms in the other areas.
“I realize there’s a difference of opinion here,” Moros said, when asked if he really thinks guns should be allowed in religious gathering spaces. “I carry at my church.”
It’s all part of the fallout from the landmark Supreme Court decision N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which forced jurisdictions across America to recognize the right to obtain a license to carry a firearm for self-defense.
In an Aug. 4 letter to Whelan, Moros said it makes sense to let people carry in churches, synagogues and other such locations.
“The fact that places of worship have been frequent targets of attack should lead any sane person to desire more law-abiding people to carry within them,” he wrote. “Many houses of worship of all denominations are in fact moving towards more lawful carry to protect their congregants.”
Moreover, he told the Los Gatan, the rigors involved in getting concealed-carry certified—which includes a psychological evaluation in Santa Clara County—mean this is a subset of the population who are willing to jump through legal hoops.
“You’re pretty much showing that you have a predisposition to following the law,” he said. “They almost never commit crimes.”
The legal pressure follows an ordinance-passing process that left both gun rights and gun reform advocates interviewed by the Los Gatan at the time satisfied—as the Town Attorney said she used a conservative approach in coming up with the details.
Michel & Associates, which also represents the Second Amendment Foundation, says the original ordinance was not an acceptable compromise.
Moros said the way it was written, concealed carriers passing through some Los Gatos parks might run afoul of it, as would the ones who rely on public transit, “—granted I don’t know how common that is in wealthy Los Gatos.”
He said they got most of what they wanted in a negotiation with the City of Glendale, although he couldn’t discuss the details as the settlement hadn’t been finalized.
And banning concealed carry in schools was just “silly,” he added—suggesting this is something that may have been included to score political points—since guns are already banned there by state and federal laws.
Michel & Associates has a lawsuit ready to go for when Sacramento finishes its “sensitive places” gun ban.
And if they lose that fight, Moros says Los Gatos is welcome to dust its ordinance off and put it in place.
Mayor Maria Ristow said she’s glad the Town was able to at least keep something in place, as the court battles play out.
“I am proud that Los Gatos is one of the very few municipalities with a sensitive places ordinance,” she said. “Given pending legal challenges locally and at the state level, we did have to make a couple of changes, but we have an ordinance that is legally-defensible and protects our residents.”