When you think of “Needles, California” these days, your first thought is probably of the syringe-strewn streets of San Francisco, not the small town on the California-Arizona border. Needles actually made some news recently, though, thanks to the decision by city leaders to declare their home a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary.” As it turns out, Needles is having a hard time competing with its Arizona neighbors like Fort Mojave, Bullhead City, and Lake Havasu City when it comes to things like tax revenues from retail. Not surprisingly, Arizona gun owners would rather shop in Arizona (a constitutional carry state that also recognizes every other state’s concealed handgun licenses) instead of California, where Arizonans can’t legally carry a firearm. But gun owners in Needles are also being harmed by California’s gun laws.
It’s important to note that there are no gun stores in Needles, California, so it’s not like Arizonans are crossing state lines to buy their guns and ammo in Needles. As it turns out, there are plenty of gun stores in Arizona for residents to choose from. In Needles, however, gun owners have to do something mind-bogglingly idiotic, all because of a “common sense gun law” approved by California voters back in 2016. One of the provisions in Prop 63 requires background checks for ammunition sales, and forbids Californians from ordering ammunition online, unless it is shipped to a federally licensed firearms retailer. It also forbids Californians from entering the state with ammunition purchased out of state (both provisions are currently being challenged in court). That means that if you live in Needles, you can’t go a couple of miles to Bullhead City to buy your .22LR or .45ACP. Better gas up, because it’s gonna be a long trip.
Needles Mayor Jeff Williams, a former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, grumbles at state law every hunting season: ‘I have to drive 140 miles to Barstow to buy ammunition when right across the border in Arizona there are a dozen gun stores.’
That’s right. 140 miles. Each way, by the way. A round trip of 280 miles to legally purchase ammunition. Even in California, this isn’t “common sense”, but nonsensical. Gang members and violent criminals aren’t going to go through background checks to purchase ammunition. They’ll steal it, they’ll get it through straw purchases, and they’ll create a brand new illicit market in ammunition trafficking from other states. Meanwhile, at least some folks are having to drive nearly 300 miles so they can exercise their right to keep and bear arms with an actual firearm, not an expensive metal club. I’m pretty sure others have decided to risk criminal prosecution by purchasing ammunition in other states. Through its sheer stupidity, the law is likely to turn otherwise law-abiding gun owners into criminals. Yet supporters of criminal justice reform like Governor Gavin Newsom would never argue against this law. In fact, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is actually defending this garbage law in court!
Anti-gun politicians don’t seem to be too concerned about the fact that the law creates a huge impact on legal gun owners, particularly in rural areas and border communities. Nor are they particularly upset about the fact that this law will create a robust illicit market in ammunition among gang members and violent criminals. It’s a sad fact that once a gun control bill becomes law, the politicians that voted for it almost instantly lose interest in how well it actually works.
City leaders and local elected officials are hoping to use the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolution as a way to spur discussions in Sacramento that would lead to a carve-out of California gun laws for certain border communities like Needles. I hate to break it to them, but that isn’t gonna happen. Those anti-gun politicians at the state capitol want every gun owner in the state to be as inconvenienced as gun owners are in Needles. They don’t like gun ownership, period. The fewer Californians exercising their 2nd Amendment rights the better, as far as they’re concerned. Appealing to these folks on 2A ground is a waste of energy. However, there is another way.
As it turns out, this gun control law is really bad for the environment. What’s the carbon footprint of driving 280 miles every other week to purchase ammunition? It might not be enough to kill the rainforest, but it’s gotta be pretty close to the equivalent of keeping a farting cow in your backyard, right? Even if we’re only talking about a farting goat (and let me tell you, as the owner of several goats, I can talk goat farts all day long), there is an environmental impact, and that’s a mortal sin in California politics. Why would any politician in California want a gun control law that doesn’t work but does bring us one day closer to the death of Mother Earth? Are they that beholden to the gun control lobby?