NRA Fires off Letter for Rules Committee Discussion on Local Gun Control

The National Rifle Association heard about a local attorney’s idea to crack down on assault weapons in San Jose and hired a law firm to write up a disapproving missive to City Council.

“In light of the legal preemption issues, I would hope the San Jose City Council recognizes that, as a legal matter, the proposed ordinance cannot pass muster,” reads the letter from Michael & Associates, a firm jointly contracted by the NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association to warn the city against pursuing the gun control measure. “In fact, every other city that had an ordinance like the proposed ordinance before the San Jose City Council has repealed the ordinance in recognition of this. San Jose’s proposed ordinance should like those other ordinances be repealed.”

The warning goes on to say that state law protecting the rights of gun owners would supercede any rules San Jose tries to impose, if it wound up following the suggestion of Maurits Van Smith, the lawyer who recently suggested new gun control rules. Smith’s proposed ordinance would require mental health checks on anyone who wants to own an assault weapon and for them to store the gun at the police department.

The NRA-commissioned letter goes before the Rules and Open Government Committee for Wednesday, January 23, 2013.

Other notable items on the public record and agenda:

• San Jose plans to support a national effort to call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that only individuals—not corporations—should enjoy First Amendment protections.

“The United States’ Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission ushered in a new era in politics,” the city staff report states. “Corporate entities and special interests can spend unlimited amounts of money expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or ballot measure …the practical effect of this decision on governance in San Jose, and on cities throughout the nation, appears self-evident. We have all witnessed how financial influences can distort the public policymaking process, and how it can disenfranchise the political will of the vast majority of American citizens.

The ordinance adds San Jose to a growing list of cities, 11 state legislatures, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and others who want to repeal the 2010 Supreme Court decision and level the political playing field to prevent undue influence of money on elections.

“Money is not speech,” the resolution argues against the Supreme Court’s ruling, “and therefore the expenditure of money to influence elections is not a form of constitutionally protected speech and may be regulated.”

• The city complied with open meeting laws 89 percent of the time when posting its public meeting calendars and agendas online, according to a city staff review. Sick leave, staff errors, winter furlough and technical problems accounted for the lapses, according to staff.

• Councilmember Donald Rocha asked the committee to hold three study sessions: One to figure out how to better implement local public health policies, another on ways to improve parks, rec and library services, and a third to better support the arts and nonprofits in San Jose.

• The city got a $3.6 million grant from the national “Let’s Move!” campaign, an anti-obesity initiative of the Affordable Care Act. San Jose has the third-highest rate of overweight kids in the county. The city plans to use the grant to improve access to parks, affordable healthy food and education about healthy living. It also asks local public officials to help in public outreach to promote healthy lifestyles to children.

• One of the city’s most persistent critics, David Wall, has had a busy beginning to the year, firing off four letters to Mayor Chuck Reed et al. this week alone. The first repeats from last week Wall’s outrage about a homeless camp behind Columbus Park, another decries a plan to fix the stench wafting from the Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant by mechanically drying sewage sludge instead of letting it air out in the sun. Wall’s third contention again involves the pollution control plant, which he says doesn’t need to expand as planned and that any attempt to do so is a way to extort money from taxpayers. And finally, San Jose’s cyclists must be pretty aggressive—Wednesday’s the second meeting in a row the issue of safety will come up.

““I too have been struck by a reckless adult bicycle rider and have had numerous occasions where I had to yield very quickly and in some instances acrobatically, to my peril, to avoid reckless adult and juvenile bicycle riders from ‘mowing me down’ while on the public sidewalks in front of my house and in front of city hall,” Wall writes.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meeting
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Council Chambers, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: Kathy Carrillo, City Clerk, 408.535.1254

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Gun proponents are big proponents of “personal responsibility”.  We should make gun owners provide proof of insurance or that they have the ability to post some amount of money when something happens to one one their weapons.  Insurance companies would figure out how to properly assess the risk, and figure out what to charge.

    When you have 5 people “accidently” shot at gun shows this past Saturday you have to wonder how much training the average gun owner really has.

  2. Rules and open government committee is more like it’s my way or the highway dictatorship committee. What’s goes around comes around, I cannot wait for that day to come for the so called leadership sitting on that committee. CAN’T WAIT!

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