San Diego gun enthusiasts said Tuesday they will ignore a new city ordinance banning assault rifles or move out of the city, at least until legislation can be enacted in Sacramento to protect their rights to own, collect and practice-shoot the semiautomatic weapons.
“If it’s turn loose of the guns or leave the state, I’ll leave,” said Howard Fousie, a San Diego County field support team member for the National Rifle Assn. “I’m retired. I don’t have to stay here.”
Kenny Kinnischtzke, president of the South Bay Rod & Gun Club, added: “People will ignore this ordinance. I think they will disobey this law.”
Those reactions came sharp on the heels of a City Council vote Monday to ban the sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons in San Diego.
The ordinance, which takes effect in 45 days, prohibits the sale or possession of the AK-47, AR-15, Uzi and Ingram Mac-10, many of which have been identified by police as weapons used by gang members.
The council also approved an emergency ordinance, effective immediately, which allows police to seize and hold an assault rifle for up to 72 hours unless the owner can show that the firearm was not being used for illegal purposes.
Five Children Killed
The council members did agree to amend or rescind the sale and possession ordinance if the state Supreme Court upholds an NRA challenge to similar bans adopted in Los Angeles and Stockton, Calif., where a man armed with a semiautomatic sprayed an elementary schoolyard in January, killing five children.
The council also agreed to defer to bills pending before the state Legislature calling for a statewide ban. On Tuesday, a proposal to ban military-style assault rifles narrowly cleared committees in both the Assembly and the Senate.
With all the new government activity, several San Diego gun owners and collectors said Tuesday they are being unjustly punished as politicians and police mount the fight against gang members and other criminals with access to the rapid-fire weapons.
But some police officials cautioned that the fears of many gun owners may be premature.
Lt. George Saldamando of the San Diego police gang detail said that, even under the new ordinance, it would be “very, very rare” that police would stop a car driven by a law-abiding gun collector and find a semiautomatic hidden inside the vehicle.
“There’s always a chance you can stop a drunk driver and he’s going to have an assault weapon in his trunk,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen very often.”
Yet gun collectors point out that simply storing a semiautomatic in your basement or transporting it to the range would be illegal. They said twice-a-month gun shows would be canceled for fear of police raids. And they said gun dealers, a source for many gun collectors and hobbyists, would suffer serious financial setbacks.
‘Law Is Rubbish’
“Naturally, as a gun owner and a gun dealer, I think this law is rubbish,” said Bruce Cavanaugh, owner of Krasne’s Gunshop on 6th Avenue.
“If it goes into effect, it’s going to probably hurt 20% of my business, and that’s bad.”
He said many collectors own semiautomatics that are worth from $2,500 to $3,000, and they never would want to sell the weapons or hand them over to police.
“They will keep their guns underground and that, of course, makes criminals out of people,” Cavanaugh said.
Fousie, a retired veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, said the ban actually could prompt an increase in crime.
“You’ll have gun runners,” he said. “You’ll have a gun underground.