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By Shawn Raymundo

A council vote on whether to declare San Clemente as a Second Amendment Sanctuary was tabled to early June, giving residents an opportunity to view a draft of the proposed resolution from Mayor Pro Tem Gene James.

James, the architect of the nonbinding resolution that’s meant to reinforce the rights of San Clemente’s gun owners, submitted the wording to the city clerk’s office Tuesday, May 18, hours before the council met to discuss it in front of the public.

“In fairness to everyone who wants to review this, I would move that we defer this to our meeting on June 1, and table it until then,” James said after the council heard from numerous individuals who raised objections to the resolution itself, as well as the inability to read it ahead of time.

Councilmembers on Tuesday debated over the resolution, which claims, among other things, that the state’s laws on guns are “over-restrictive,” and that legislation from a Texas congresswoman “would place even harsher restrictions on citizens of the United States.”

“California’s laws regulating firearms and ammunition are over-restrictive, and have impaired, and will continue to impair, the free flow of commerce among and between the State of California and other states, and the ability of citizens to lawfully exercise their rights with immediate adverse impacts on the City and its residents,” the resolution states.

It goes onto to also reference HR 127, a bill introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) who’s proposing to establish licensing and registration requirements on firearms, as well as ban “certain ammunition and large capacity ammunition feeding devices.”

James’ proposed resolution declares that the House bill, if passed, “would greatly infringe on the principles upheld in both the United States Constitution and the California Constitution and would again do nothing to protect law abiding citizens.”

At the onset to the council’s discussion Tuesday night, Mayor Kathy Ward asked James to shelve the item, arguing that it’s not specifically a city issue and that such a declaration would be divisive.

“I just don’t think this rises to the need that our arms are being taken from us and the need to do this,” Ward had said. “I don’t think anyone on this council is against the U.S. Constitution or any of the amendments … This is outside of our purview. And it’s a personal thing that is being asked of this council to do. It’s not a city issue.”

Defending his resolution, James said it is “about the Constitution of the United States” before stating that he thinks that the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens “are under attack.”

James later addressed the members of the public who have voiced opposition to the resolution, noting that gun rights advocates love the country as much as those who support firearms restrictions. He then suggested that they launch a campaign to repeal the Second Amendment.

“I would suggest that if people have so many issues with the Second Amendment, that they start a grassroots campaign to repeal the Second Amendment—amendments have been repealed under the Constitution—but I don’t see anyone doing that,” he said.

Councilmember Steven Knoblock, a proponent of James’s resolution, argued that it’s not a partisan issue, nor does it represent extremism—as some opponents alluded to. He added that he’s seen a “major national effort to diminish or rescind the Second Amendment.”  

During the back-and-froth debate, Councilmember Chris Duncan noted that while his remarks weren’t meant to criticize James, they were critical of his resolution. He stated that he’s not a fan of nonbinding resolutions when there’s other matters for the council to address.

Duncan also expressed worry about the perception the passage of such a resolution would have on San Clemente, particularly at a time when the economy is bouncing back from the pandemic.

“Even though it’s ineffectual, there’s certainly a perception that could come from it, and frankly I’m a little worried for our businesses as we enter this economic boom that we hope is going to happen,” he said. “I am concerned about the perception this could bring to our town, about whether people might want to visit a town like that that has passed a resolution like that.”

Prior to calling for the vote, the council had also debated whether the resolution needed to first be publicized as an attachment at to the council’s agenda packet before they can consider its passage.

“It’s very problematic to approve a resolution the public has not seen,” Ward said.

City Attorney Scott Smith said that a councilmember reading the resolution aloud during the meeting would suffice. He advised though that by doing so, the council should open another round of public comments to the audience members who had already spoken on the proposal earlier in the night.

After hearing James read the resolution, many in the audience who got up to speak again opined that the wording was confusing and at times didn’t make any sense. The comments prompted James to request that the discussion be continued to the council’s June 1 meeting.

SR_1Shawn Raymundo
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.

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comments (2)

  • In case anyone want to see it, this is the text of what Mr. James wanted to pass. It was never published before the meeting. And even the copies that were handed out at the meeting were missing a page.

    Regardless of where you are on the gun debate, this resolution is a horrible idea and just plan sloppy. The second line of it refers to the “Charter” of San Clemente, but we do not even have a charter. We are not a “Charter City.” We are a “General Law” city. And while the resolution is supposed to be non-binding, that is not at all clear from the text, which even asks the sheriff to not enforce gun laws (see Section 2) and orders the City Clerk to send the resolution to the state.

    You also might ask yourself why all the Commerce Clause stuff is in the resolution. Well, its because Mr. James apparently just copied his resolution from the City of Needles, which passed a similar resolution to address the specific difficulties of California gun laws when living on the border with Arizona and Nevada. This resolution simply makes no sense and accomplishes nothing. In fact, it labels San Clemente as a city that won’t enforce gun laws. There is no reason for this.

    There was not a single supporter of this resolution at the previous city council meeting (other than Mr. James and Mr. Knoblock, neither of whom seemed to have previously read the resolution). If it is on the agenda for the June 1 city council meeting, I encourage everyone to show up to tell the council whether you want San Clemente labeled in this way.

    RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA, DECLARING THE CITY TO BE A “SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY CITY”

    WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of San Clemente, California (the “City Council” of the “City”), pursuant to the Charter of the City of San Clemente, is vested with the authority of administering the affairs of the City; and
    WHEREAS, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, protects the inalienable and individual rights of the people to keep and bear arms; and
    WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. 570, affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home; and
    WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) 561 U.S. 742, affirmed that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms,” is protected under the Second Amendment, and is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply also to the States, such that the States cannot deprive people of their liberty without due process of law; and
    WHEREAS, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the United States Constitution (the “Commerce Clause”), provides that the United States Congress shall have the power “to regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;” and
    WHEREAS, Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution provides that “[a]ll people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy;” and
    WHEREAS, Article I, Section 7 of the California Constitution provides that “a person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws; . . . ;” and
    WHEREAS, Article I, Section 13 of the California Constitution provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches may not be violated; …;” and
    WHEREAS, Article I, Section 19 of the California Constitution provides that “[p]rivate property may be taken or damaged for a public use only when just compensation, ascertained by a jury unless waived, has first been paid to, or into court for, the owner,” and the California Supreme Court has indicated this includes compensation for permanent or temporary interference with the physical use, possession, disposition, or enjoyment of property; and
    WHEREAS, it is the desire of the City Council to declare its support of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution; and
    WHEREAS, the City of San Clemente supports the right of citizens and taxpayers to defend themselves and
    WHEREAS, it is the desire of the City Council to declare its support for the free flow of commerce between the citizens of the City and the citizens of the United States of America, consistent with the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution; the full support of the Second Amendment for the citizens of the City; and
    WHEREAS, California’s laws regulating firearms and ammunition are over restrictive, and have impaired, and will continue to impair, the free flow of commerce among and between the States of California and other states and ability of citizens to lawfully exercise their rights with immediate adverse economic impacts on the City and its residents; and
    WHEREAS, the federal government has now introduced H.R. 127 by Congresswoman Jackson lee of Texas; and
    WHEREAS, H.R. 127 would place even harsher restrictions on the citizens of the United States, California, and the City and would greatly infringe on the principles upheld in both the Unites States Constitution and the California Constitution, and would again do nothing to protect law-abiding citizens.
    NOW THERE THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN CLEMENTE DOES RESOLVE, DECLARE, AND DETERMINED AND ORDER AS FOLLOWS:
    SECTION 1. That the City of San Clemente be, and hereby is, declared to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City.”
    SECTION 2. That the City Council affirms its support for the County Sheriff in his exercise of sound discretion to not enforce against any person an unconstitutional firearms and ammunition law within the City.
    SECTION 3. That the City of San Clemente will not appropriate funds for the purpose of enforcing any law that unconstitutionally infringes upon the right of the People of the City, or the People of neighboring States, to keep and bear arms.
    SECTION 4. That the City of San Clemente affirms its support for the free flow of commerce among and between the City and neighboring communities in the United States of Nevada and Arizona, and demands that the California State Legislature cease adopting and rescind unlawfully restrictive firearm and ammunition laws that violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by improperly impairing the free flow of commerce between the States or which serve to infringe upon the rights under both the United States Constitution or and California State Constitution.
    SECTION 5. That the State of California adopt a policy of reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders of other States and thereby restore the free flow of commerce between the States.
    SECTION 6. That precedent for such action being steps take in 2017 by the State of California in their refusal to uphold federal immigration directives and proclaim the State of California free from enacting federal law that they deemed unconstitutional in nature. The courts in this matter denying sovereign immunity and allow sanctuary status to stand.
    SECTION 7. That the City Clerk is hereby directed to prepare and deliver copies of this Resolution to all members of the California State Legislature and to the Office of the Governor.

  • I fully support the United States Constitution which includes the 2nd Amendment. I fully support Gene James in his heroic effort to support the Constitution and push back against the gun grabbing left who have no love for either our Constitution or our Country.

    If Mr. Van Nort thinks this resolution is sloppy, then instead of complaining about this much needed declaration, he should lend his “expertise” in cleaning up the language. When Van Nort claims the resolution “asks the sheriff not to enforce gun laws” he undermines his own credibility because that is NOT what the resolution says. Here is the relevant quote:

    “That the City Council affirms its support for the County Sheriff in his exercise of sound discretion to not enforce against any person an unconstitutional firearms and ammunition law within the City.”

    So the County Sheriff would be asked to NOT enforce UNCONSTITUTIONAL firearms and ammunition laws within the city, not just any law related to firearms and ammunition.

    Gun grabbers and those who would diminish our Constitutional rights including 2nd Amendment rights, need to stopped in their tracks and this resolution is a great first start for the city of San Clemente. I fully support Gene James and Steve Knoblock in their heroic efforts to support the US Constitution against those who are attempting to undermine it. Other freedom loving Americans feel the same way.

    Make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment sanctuary state!

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