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Parks Are for Children—Not Guns—Council Decides

The San Juan Capistrano City Council shoots down proposal to allow the "open carry" of unloaded firearms in local parks.

San Juan Capistrano a Wild West city? No, it ain't, the City Council said Tuesday.

In a 3-1 vote, it shot down a proposal by councilman Derek Reeve to allow firearms in the city's 17 parks and hundreds of acres of open spaces.

"This is a family-friendly-oriented city, and that means no weapons in the parks," said City Councilman Larry Kramer, who called the proposal "ridiculous" and a "waste of time."

In his first year on the dais, Reeve said it is his responsibility to defend more lenient state and federal constitutions. "My concern is that this is a constitutional issue," he said.

Local ordinances, Reeve contended, should not preempt California law, which allows residents to openly carry guns in most places except government buildings, including schools.

Allowing individuals to protect themselves would also Reeve said.

His peers, however, predicted the opposite.

“I don’t think I’d feel safer in this town if everyone had a weapon. There’s some people in this town don’t like me!" Kramer joked. He qualified his remark by saying that at 10 years old he started hunting rabbits and squirrels on his family's farm, then later spent 30 years in the military handling big weapons.

Kathy Hooper, chairwoman of San Juan's Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission, said the advisory board decided Monday night to recommend a "no" vote. People enjoying their recreational time shouldn't be forced to worry about others toting guns.

"If someone walked around that park with a gun, it no longer becomes a safe place," she said.

Mayor Sam Allevato said there is "overwhelming" public opposition to Reeve's proposal, which drew support from open-carry advocates in neighboring cities.

Lake Forest resident Vincent Burke said he agrees with Reeve that citizens have a right to arm themselves, especially for self-defense purposes. "Police are only there for public protection, not personal protection," he said.

He and others debated whether a municipality can legally restrict where guns can be carried. San Juan Capistrano's attorney, Omar Sandoval, said that as long as the City Council is not prohibiting residents from carrying guns or "from playing with guns" it's in no position to be sued.

In his closing remarks, Reeve reminded a concerned local businessman that merchants can opt to ban guns on their premises.

Larry Thomas, the vice president of , said he didn't want to "live in the type of environment" where he'd have to worry about customers walking in for a transaction while carrying a handgun.

"We’re very sensitive to firearms," he said. "We're actually sensitive to sunglasses, hoods ... they really ring bells in my business. It worries me greatly."

Reeve's proposal pertained only to the open carry of unloaded weapons. Orange County residents who want to carry loaded, concealed weapons must obtain a special permit from the sheriff.

Last month, Reeve voted against a to provide police services in San Juan Capistrano as its done since 1961. He said he disagreed with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens' strict concealed-weapons policies.

Multiple posts on his Facebook page show Reeve's high regard for the right to bear arms.

"To keep it San Juan, I can lead a horse to water, but I can't make it drink," Reeve said in reaction to Tuesday's vote.

(Councilwoman Laura Freese was absent from Tuesday's meeting.)

Student July 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
It looks to me that Reeve is representing an agenda and not the people of San Juan.
Orrie Brown July 20, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Jenna, since this item was not included in the posted agenda for Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission, do you know how it could have legally been discussed and voted on, as Commissioner Hooper stated?
Jenna Chandler July 20, 2011 at 04:51 PM
I'm doing my best to find out ... will let you know
Alberto Barrera July 20, 2011 at 05:10 PM
We have had mountain lions in the city before, and I've seen coyotes trotting on Los Rios street, I would feel much safer if I could carry a knife or a gun while walking through our city's trails.
Student July 20, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Coyote's get to be 40lbs max. No coyote is going to hurt you Alberto. Mountain lions are in their habitat, so while in their habitat you might want to carry pepper spray like most of the mountain bikers do when on the trails.
Charles E. Nichols July 21, 2011 at 06:08 AM
By the way, California law preempts local governments. They can not enact any gun laws unless authorized by the state legislature; the state legislature has not authorized local governments to ban firearms in parks. The City of Santa Clara was going to enact their own ban in parks last year but changed its mind when it received a nasty-gram from a lawyer. The City Attorney for San Juan Capistrano has invited a lawsuit. He can be accommodated .
Harley Green July 21, 2011 at 01:11 PM
"Wild west" ?? CA is the only western state that does not allow loaded firearms to be carried in public places. The rest of the country enjoys the right to defend oneself wherever they go, even PARKS! Gun control is so passe, time for CA to catch up with the times.
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 12:53 AM
The criminal will stand at the sign saying, "No Guns," and say, well, I guess I might just go home. Right! The criminal will stand at the sign and say, "No one here can defend themselves, so it's time for crime to shine!" The city council should pat themselves on the back over the people they just murdered.
Student July 22, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Nothing like a little scare tactic hyperbole.
Orrie Brown July 22, 2011 at 01:26 AM
To Student: Not scare tactic, not hyperbole, FACT!
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Suzanna Hupp, look her up on Youtube. That's one death laid directly at the feet of the people the caused it... the politicians.
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Student, with all due respect... the idea that a park is safer when all legal gun owners are removed is fallacy at it's worst, and is not supported by fact at all. What is the first thing you do when you see crime in a park? You call the police and a man with a gun shows up. Would it not be better to prevent the crime in the first place by making the parks a place where criminals are not safe or welcome? Let me ask you a question. If a man were going to rob your local 7-11, and he sees a patron in the store with a 9mm gun on his hip, would he still rob it? Of COURSE not! The same applies to parks. A criminal will always retreat when faced with superior force. That is why he is a criminal.
Adam July 22, 2011 at 02:24 AM
IMO, this unfortunately is an issue of trying to solve a problem that is so remote in reality, especially in San Juan Capistrano; and even to a smaller percentage in the parks and open space areas. One only needs to peruse historical statistics: There are over 300 million people in the U.S. On the average around 40 thousand non-fatal shootings, and around 16 thousand homicides occur annually. One other unfortunate statistic is that a very large percentage of homicides occur in densely populated urban areas, and occur as black on black crimes. While this is a sad and unfortunate statistic; it even further lowers the likelihood of this type of incident occurring in San Juan Capistrano. Yes, there are bad people in the world that do bad things. But The vast majority of people in this country will spend their entire lives never witnessing a gun being pulled in the commission of a crime. Life is by no means without risk, but personally I look at the historical annual averages based on current population, and assess the risks. 1 in 7,700 people may become the victims of a non-fatal shooting (intentional and accidental) 1 in 6,200 may commit suicide by gun 1 in 19,400 may be the victim of a homicide by gun (with a substantial percentage occurring in the domicile where the gun is kept) 1 in 7,400 people may die in an auto accident 1 in 100 may become the victim of an auto accident (non-fatal) 1 in 75 people may be bitten by dogs
Adam July 22, 2011 at 02:24 AM
One’s likelihood of being attacked by a person with a gun in one of our parks or open space areas is very remote. Also, the need to carry a gun to protect one’s self from wildlife is even astronomically more remote. 88 non-fatal mountain lion attacks and 20 fatal attacks in the U.S. and Canada in the last 110 years. San Juan Capistrano has some definite issues to address….finances, water rates, staff benefits, infrastructure, business growth, traffic, etc…. These are what we should be focusing on. Unfortunately this is an issue that people on either side will probably never feel satisfied or vindicated; or will change their position or passion. One person at the last council meeting made a very astute point regarding the opposing sides and statistics (especially relating to all the legal types present). He said that attorneys pretty much do what they do best, which is to argue their position. And as far as the facts to this issue; he said any good attorney could easily make a valid and compelling case for either side. I would hope that we can stay focused on the issues that are truly impacting our daily lives in San Juan. Thanks
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Aside from the legal implications of disarming the victims and making them prey to the criminals, there are other implications as well. There has never been a government that has not self destructed, and the first thing they do when they are ready to self destruct is to start to limit the rights of the people. The fact is that all governments fall because peole who have been stripped of their rights pull them down. The problem is not right now, today. The problem is that what the cities do right now, today will impact what happens in ten, twenty, even a hundred years from now. The founding fathers saw the end of our government and even postulated on what form the end would take, and they agreed that when the revolution happens, it is far less bloody when the people being subjecgated are armed than if they are not. Oh, the final fall may be bloody in any case, but the death and destruction that leads up to it is far less. Some even suggested that if the people remain armed and were sovereign, then they would occasionally do a "reset," and correct the governments - but only if they are able to do so, which means that they would need to be armed.
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 02:48 AM
(part 2) Which is why they did not include gun control in the constitution. It was never granted to the federal government to regulate. The second amendment does not grant any rights, it just prevents the government from infringing on those rights. Infringing is a contract term. Ever noticed that? Look it up in Blacks and you will find that it is defined only as a contract term. Why did they choose such a term to relate to rights? Because the term means to enter into the realm of a right that they are not granted rights to enter into. Look at it this way. If you hire a maid, her contract clearly states the terms of her employment. If you did not include an exclusivity clause, and she gets a second job with a different company, you cannot fire her for THAT because the terms of her contract did not include the right to do that. The terms of the contract establishing the federal government did not grant them the right to regulate firearms. No state constitution (contract) granted any state the right to regulate firearms with some very minor exceptions. Some even went as far as to include a version of the second amendment to prevent the future representatives from regulating firearms. Which is what the Supreme court had a problem with with the Slaughterhouse Cases.
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 02:57 AM
(part 3) See, the SCOTUS noted that since the constitution did not grant the right to regulate firearms, it also did not grant the right to the courts to punish those who violated the individual right to own weapons! It did not have jurisdiction!
Pat Riot July 22, 2011 at 02:57 AM
(part 4) That is why the McDonald case was so important to everyone. By incorporating the right under the 4th amendment, the court granted itself some pretty awesome powers. Where before it was left up to the people to regulate themselves, now the court could do it. They stole the entire range of freedoms out of our laps, and we celebrated them doing it, not knowing that we had just been had. Now the courts can regulate who does and does not get to have a gun. Oh, they did that before, but only because SCOTUS refused to hear the case. States, cities, and individual banned guns everywhere, and no one fought back because the common knowledge was that the government could do that, when in fact whey didn't have that authority. So why is carrying a gun in a park important? Because it is a regulation that the government was not granted, and a right they have taken away on a large amount of property. How far will it go? Will the government say, "We don't have the right to regulate this, but are going to do it anyway because we are stronger than you are?" If they do, then we have devolved from a republic into a democracy and no one will be safe in his person or property. With that kind of power, how long do you think it will be before an elected official decides to retain office after his replacement is elected? Before you say that can't happen, it already has in our past. It will happen again. Bloomburg almost did it this last election.
Student July 22, 2011 at 04:44 AM
No, it's an opinion.
Student July 22, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Now, those are some facts.

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