Opinion: Enough of Thoughts and Prayers, Time for Thoughts and Actions

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It’s just my opinion…

Burbank Chamber

Forget trying to be the Media Capital of the World when we are close to becoming the Licensed Firearms Dealers of the World.

Another mass shooting rocks the United States. Innocent children who do not understand politics are dead.

This latest school shooting tragedy in Uvalde marks the 27th shooting at a K-12 school in 2022, according to Education Week. The online publication also reported there had been 119 since 2018, with 34 school shootings occurring last year.

I am sick and tired of hearing people say that their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims when we should all say that our “thoughts and actions” need to take place to stop this madness.

So to be upfront, I am not and never have been a gun owner. As a long-time high school coach, I never wanted to have a gun anywhere near me with high school students around, and growing up in Burbank I knew of NO gun stores until the first one appeared in 1991 so the subject was out of my mind.

Shooting range or what was called “McCambridge Park Small Bore Range” (Photo from Burbank Public Library’s Burbank in Focus)

Back in the ’50s and into the ’60s, Burbank youth were being indoctrinated into the world of shooting. Did you know at one time that Burbank High had a rifle club and was sponsored by Remington Rifles? Students actually walked around campus with their cased rifles. And where did they shoot? McCambridge Recreation Center had a gun range inside where not only the high school students could shoot, but local Boy Scouts could also qualify for shooting merit badges.

With that said, I am not against guns or gun ownership. I do not want people’s Second Amendment rights taken away. However, is it too much to ask to have some responsible gun laws about what the average citizen can own? You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded and yet the First Amendment Right to Free Speech remains strong.

Do we need to own assault rifles? I hate to say it but if someone does decide to invade the United States, they are going to be using planes and intercontinental missiles. Are we going to use our AK-47s to shoot those down?

On the other hand, if someone lives alone or wants to protect their family with a pistol or would like to go target shooting with a single round rifle, have at it. Sorry, I am just not into hunting but I get it, there are some regions of the country that is an acceptable hobby although I wish it was not. But that’s just me.

My question though is, what has happened to Burbank that we have a proliferation of gun shops now in our City?

Source – Staff Report to the Burbank City Council February 8, 2022

According to Carol-Ann Coates, Building Administration Manager for the City of Burbank, there are currently 14 active licensed firearms dealers in Burbank, which is a total area of 17.4 square miles. Burbank’s 14 gun stores are in an area one-third that size or about five square miles. As far as restrictions, she said that they must be located in a Retail Zone.

We regulate how many liquor stores and bars there are in any given area, but no gun dealerships.

According to a report to the Council by staff, revenue received from Firearm Dealer Business License fees from the past five years totaled $225,407.74, which goes to the General Fund. I guess the dollars justify the risk.

With 14 ‘gun stores’ in Burbank, we have become one of the gun store happy cities in the United States. According to Yelp Stats, Burbank ranks number three in the United States in gun shop density in the number of stores per square mile and number two in the country with the number of gun shops per capita per the website towardsdatascience.com.

That’s Burbank, as in Burbank California.

Source: towardsdatascience.com

Now here is what is interesting. Until 1991, there were ZERO gun shops in Burbank and then the first wave started. C R Enterprise was the first one to get a license followed the next year by Big 5 in 1993 with Speed Shooters and the Firing Line in 1994. After that, no more were issued until 2009/2010 when the next wave of three gun stores opened and finally the flood gates opened starting in 2017 with the rest of the stores.

Try to open a ‘Gentleman’s Club’ in Burbank – good luck with that. How about a ‘pot shop’ – no way. We seem to be a City that has a certain moral compass, only it is just against the easy targets. “What, put a limit or moratorium on gun shops? No way, you infringing on my rights”, is the first thing you will hear and then the NRA will get involved and dump millions of dollars into stopping restrictions.

So what is the result? 14 active licensed firearms dealers in Burbank. With no plans to stop 10 more if they wanted to come.

What is unclear is if the City is obeying the California Gun-Free School Zone Act in which you will see a sign on every Burbank Unified School District site that says in part, “No Weapons within 1,000 feet of any school per California Penial Code 626.9. One of our readers brought this to my attention this week.

There is one section (1) in the law that says, “Within a place of residence or place of business or on private property, if the place of residence, place of business, or private property is not part of the school grounds and the possession of the firearm is otherwise lawful.”

As for the Zone, Coates said in an email when asked that. “CDD (Community Development Department) and the Police Department review the applications. The zoning and location are looked at. The section from the California Penal Code referenced on the sign on the school fence refers to the carrying of a loaded weapon. It does not apply to a place of residence, place of business, or on private property if the place of residence, place of business, or private property is not part of the school grounds and the possession of the firearm is otherwise lawful. Guns that are purchased at a dealer are not loaded and may not be loaded and have to be transported in a locked trunk.”

When I scanned through the code, I saw nothing about a “loaded” weapon. The law also does not apply to anyone who let’s say, buys an AK-47 Assault rifle, only to weapons that can be CONCEALED on a person.

We found a few stores, not in compliance with the 1,000-foot rule, including the new Gun World going into the building at the corner of Magnolia and Screenland.

With a little help from Google Maps, I found the following:

  • Gun World is within 800 feet of Roosevelt Elementary School
  • LA Firearms Supplies is within 950 feet of Walt Disney Elementary School
  • Speed Shooters is only less than 500 feet from Luther Burbank Middle School
  • RTBA is within 620 feet of St. Finbar School

Now, these measurements are as the crow flies, but there is nothing to say about how the distance is measured. I wonder if the neighbors of Speed Shooters on Evergreen Street know that their neighbor is a licensed firearms dealer? And how does the City justify that location as a “Retail Zone”? Somehow they receive a new Burbank permit every year.

Even if they are not selling guns out of their residence, the fact that they are listed as a gun dealer and in a residential neighborhood puts those neighbors at risk if someone, thinking they have multiple weapons there, were to go in and try to take them in an armed robbery attempt.

Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill and the BUSD did not return my request for comment on the situation.

Sign on BUSD Campus (Photo courtesy a reader)

Some say the law may not apply to gun stores. Okay, if not, then it does apply to people. People park nearby and walk in and out of the store with weapons. Once out on the sidewalk, they ARE violating the law. There is nothing to stop someone to walk out of the new Gun World and decide to walk down the street to a local Magnolia Park eatery for a sandwich with a gun in a bag that no one knows is there. Yeah, I may be a little paranoid there but you know that is a distinct possibility.

Some may think we are lucky because the mass shootings have not happened in Burbank. But while the shootings did not happen in Burbank, the shooters HAVE been to our gun stores. In 2014, on the evening of May 23, in Isla Vista, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others – by gunshot, stabbing, and vehicle ramming.

And where did he get one of his guns and the ammo for that gun? BURBANK, Goleta and Los Angeles. So the elements have been here in our city. A mentally deranged individual legally bought a gun and ammo and walked out of the store onto our Burbank streets. Thank God he kept going and did not decide that would be the day he acted. The information led investigators to that he was planning the killing spree for two years.

Another FACT: According to police records, there have been SEVEN people who have committed suicide at the Firing-Line at 1060 N. Lake Street.

  • August of 2002
  • July of 2008
  • June of 2009
  • November of 2009
  • August of 2010
  • February of 2016
  • November of 2021

In other words, seven people walked in and rented a gun, and shot themselves. They went there with the express condition that they were going to kill themselves, but what if one decided before they died that they wanted to take out innocent people first.

Our City Council needs to act. Our government leaders need to act.

Gun World is expanding to a new location at Screenland and Magnolia

To start with, our City Council can put a moratorium on any new gun shops and maybe put a limit of five in the City. Yes, there are 14 now, but if we limit it to five, every time a shop closes its door, no one can replace them and while it may take decades, maybe the number five may be in reach someday. Probably about the same time we control global warming.

And yes, while this problem started years ago under a different Council’s watch, six of the 14 dealers licensed by the City have occurred in the past five years. Remember, that’s 14 Firearm Dealers in a five-mile square radius. Time to throw that rubber stamp that says ‘Approved’ away.

Our national leaders such as Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Diane Feinstein can introduce a bill that bans all assault-style weapons and make every elected official go on the record with a yes or no vote. At that point it is up to you, the public to then vote out every signal member that thinks citizens should own assault rifles.

I expect people to come after me about this. I just can’t sit back with the forum we have worked hard to create in front of me and not try to do something of just put a thought in someone’s head that there IS a better way, that there can be a balance between rights and responsibilities. This is not Democratic or Republican, this is common sense and human decency. I respect your right to your opinion and a civil discussion about both gun control and mental illness which also must be dealt with.

I get it, do you?

Locations of the gun stores in Burbank. Even though Burbank is over 17 square miles, these gun stores are in a five square mile area

Just some of the gun shops that populate the Burbank area:

UMe Schools

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Sherwood, perhaps a broader response should be considered. Do you think violent video games factor into the problem? Games that the only objective is to kill people… How about Hollywood? Movie after movie with guns, violence, mayhem and killing? Do “songs” with violent content play a factor?

    Schools should be teaching civics. We should be instilling pride in our nation and teaching what it is to be American.

    Regarding Superintendent Hill not returning your call – that behavior is nothing new. I have tried many times to engage in discussions with him and he simply turns his back to you. He openly calls for discussion, then ignores your attempt to discuss the topic if you do not agree with his position. He is in fact, a fraud.

    The School Board should call for a town hall meeting, without time limits on the speakers to learn and facilitate school safety. The BUSD should be open to new ideas to keeping our children and staff safe. They should be open to soliciting new ideas from our citizens. Just try talking at a BUSD meeting if the item to be discussed is not on the agenda, you will be waiting to speak until late in the night.

    I have talked about safety in the classroom and on campus to the BUSD and I was mocked for my efforts by the Superintendent.

    History has shown and proven that law enforcement CAN NOT be counted on in a time of need. On many occasions, law enforcement (police) wait outside and do not immediately engage the enemy. This delay allows for more carnage to occur, and delays needed medical attention to the victims. This lack of action is shameful and should be considered criminal.

    I attended the city council meeting Tuesday, there is a magnetometer at the entrance. I noticed many people walk around it and are not screened. I guess the powers that be deem some people not a threat, but history has proven otherwise. I talked with the two private guards operating the scanner and they did not agree with allowing persons to pass without being screened for weapons. I talked with the police officer in the foyer of the council chamber and he did not agree with allowing people (staff and others) to enter the chamber unscreened, all three told me they were following orders from “above”. This in and of itself is a recipe in the making for disaster. (Are you listening Burbank City Council?)

    Mr. Sherwood, the problem is bigger and much broader than your myopic focus on the number of gun shops in Burbank.

    Joel Schlossman

    Parent of four children and concerned citizen.

Comments are closed.