SANTA CLARA – Up until Wednesday night, it was illegal to possess a firearm or knife with a blade more than 3 inches long in a city-owned park in Santa Clara.
The Santa Clara City Council repealed an ordinance Wednesday that city officials weren’t aware was on the books until receiving a letter from the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights advocacy group.
The ordinance, part of an overall city code related to city parks, states:
While in a park, no person shall carry a knife upon their person having a blade of three inches (3″) or longer in length, or have possession of, or discharge a BB gun, air rifle, pistol, firearm, bow and arrow, or any other type of dangerous weapon. – Santa Clara City Ordinance 12.20.010J
“We’ve used a knife longer than 3 inches to cut cake” while having church parties in the park, Councilman David Whitehead said.
“We recommend you repeal it,” City Attorney Russell Gallian told the City Council. “We’re not allowed to regulate (firearm) possession.”
Aside from a potential constitutional issue, current Utah law doesn’t allow cities to restrict aspects of gun possession, the city attorney said.
While discussing repealing the ordinance, Gallian said city staff noticed that Santa Clara appears to lack an ordinance forbidding the discharge of a firearm within city limits. No public safety officials were in the council meeting to verify whether or not such an ordinance may already exist. If not, Gallian recommended the City Council create one.
“We can’t tell them they can’t possess (a firearm), but we can tell them they can’t shoot them” within city limits, Gallian said.
The City Council unanimously voted to repeal the gun/knife restriction ordinance and discuss the particulars of a firearm discharge ordinance in a work meeting on Oct. 14. Gallian said they would also likely clarify what constitutes a “firearm” in the city code. This would be done to help better distinguish between items like pistols and shotguns versus air rifles and B.B. guns, he said.
As to how such an ordinance made it into the city code, Gallian said he wasn’t sure.
“It slipped through the cracks,” he said.
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