The town of Needles, California, may not be large in size. In fact, it has a population of 4,844.
However, it just made a huge move against California’s tendency to ignore the Second Amendment.
The small town, which borders Arizona in San Bernardino County, declared itself a Second Amendment “sanctuary city” last month, according to The Sacramento Bee. That’s not just words, however: It’s the opening salvo in a battle against the state’s restrictive gun laws.
“The City Council wanted our community to know that we support their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Needles Mayor Jeff Williams said in a June 15 statement, according to The Bee.
“While we recognize that all lawful gun owners are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with state and federal gun laws, we also recognize that the State of California cannot adopt laws that impair the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”
Part of the issue is the fact that California doesn’t recognize other states’ concealed carry permits.
“It’s really about verifying our constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Needles City Manager Rick Daniels told the Bee in an article published June 26.
“We’re the easternmost city in California. We’re 140 miles from Barstow; we’re 100 miles from Blythe. We’re a couple hundred yards from Arizona and 10 miles from Nevada,” he added.
“The law is concealed carry by right in Nevada. In Arizona, you have to fill out an application (for permission to carry a concealed weapon). Both of these states recognize California’s CCWs, but California doesn’t recognize theirs.”
And that could end in serious charges for gun owners from out of state — something that Needles politicians want to avoid.
“It was a good time to ask for a carve-out. We’re asking San Bernardino County to use discretion — to let them go back (to Arizona or Nevada) instead of making them a felon,” Mayor Williams said.
Needles also plans to meet with California lawmakers to talk the possibility of establishing a 65-mile radius from Needles in which gun owners would be safe from the Golden State’s restrictions.
The town also wants to discuss a reciprocity agreement with Nevada and Arizona so that California would recognize those state’s concealed carry licenses as well as a controversial 2018 law that makes it illegal to import ammunition purchased in other states. The law, which went into effect July 1, is a particular problem in a border town like Needles, The Bee noted.
It’s not just a symbolic battle for Needles, either. Daniels told The Bee that Arizonans and Nevadans in the region don’t come to Needles because of California’s gun laws — a major economic blow for such a small city.
“They avoid Needles,” he said, adding that because of the risk of forgetting that you’re concealed carrying and getting charged with a felony because someone forgot about a legally registered gun makes it so that people “avoid coming to Needles to shop and do business.”
“We have had that happen,” Daniels told The Associated Press. “Now not a lot. Not often. But occasionally that occurs.”
And what Needles officials are doing isn’t necessarily unusual. The AP noted that in New Mexico, which also just passed restrictive new gun laws, “more than two dozen sheriffs in predominantly rural areas vowed to avoid enforcement, equipped with supportive ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries’ resolutions from county commissions.”
Whether this has any impact on California’s law remains to be seen. It’s unlikely, unfortunately.
However, if other conservative communities in California — and yes, they do exist — join them, this could be the start of a major pushback against the state’s gun-grabbing ways.
If nothing else, though, Needles officials are making a point.
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