Imperial Beach, California town council ends new gun shop ‘moratorium’

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Back in June my colleague Cam reported on a town that put into effect a “moratorium” on the opening of new gun stores. Imperial Beach, California voted to halt the issuance of business licenses for firearm retailers for 45 days. The moratorium for 45 days had more to do with the council having time to come up with a plan and draft a new resolution addressing the non-problem of new gun shops doing business within their town limits, and when the next council meeting was scheduled. Those 45 days have passed and the people of Imperial Beach now have resolution on the matter.


The drama concerning the opening of new gun shops in Imperial Beach started when small business owner Stephanie Gilreath sought to open a retail location for her new business, Outdoor Woman. Gilreath told Bearing Arms that the process has been a surprise to her and that, “I had operated Imperial Beach Guns here from 2014-2020 without any additional ordinances. I understand that in the span of a few years, things can, and did, change.”

Gilreath operated Outdoor Woman from her home since earlier this year, with an FFL and there were no issues from the town, but when she applied for a commercial retail permit is when roadblocks started to get put up in front of her. Outdoor Woman was to be the first mixed-use zoned brick and mortar retail location in the town that would sell firearms. Outdoor Woman would be seeking to outfit any patrons seeking to buy firearms through them and guns would only account for about 10% of their projected sales.

Gilreath noted that she was not going to just take the restrictions being imposed on FFLs without a fight:

After the initial shock of being told we would have to go through a laborious process to open Outdoor Woman, we settled in and prepared for a fight.  While firearms are only a small part of the business now, that was the issue.


Was the move to shelve the issuance of firearm related retailer permits an exercise of overreach, a product of ignorance, a measure to ensure things were to be “regulated” properly, or a combination of some or all of that? It’s quite possible a little bit of each of those elements were at play when restrictions started to pile up. Gilreath, with the help of San Diego County Gun Owners, were going to figure that all out.

In the time that passed since the permit issuance was shelved on Gilreath, she worked diligently with the council to ensure that no burdensome and undue restrictions were placed on brick and mortar businesses acting in the capacity as an FFL. “The city, even though many are not in favor of firearms, worked to put together an ordinance in less than 45 days,” Gilreath told Bearing Arms. Everyone involved seemed to be working in good faith.

On Wednesday, August 2nd, the meeting did occur. The new amended agenda with ordnance information was only put up on the town’s website around 2 p.m., and that did not give people a large amount of time to review it prior to the meeting which was scheduled for 6 p.m.. During the meeting, Gilreath had an opportunity to speak publicly and thanked the council for working with her and expressed some minor misgivings about what was not addressed. While not every single line item brought up was rectified, Gilreath was satisfied that enough of the ordinance was changed in order to allow her business to open and function without overregulation.


Gilreath discussed the process in working with the council and how they were able to come up with a plan to make the regulations realistic. Gilreath told us in a statement yesterday about the situation:

The ordinance started out reading like something out of Nazi Germany, but with some discussion, and understanding the implications of wording, changes were made and the ordinance that was passed last night is a great start.  There are still parts that myself, and many other firearm enthusiasts, do not agree with, but through perseverance and education, I’m sure that we’ll be able to work with the city and the community to overcome those obstacles.  

Michael A Schwartz, who worked with Gilreath and the council, on behalf of San Diego County Gun Owners, celebrated this news in a statement yesterday:

Over the past few months, the Imperial Beach City Council effectively blocked any new gun shop from opening by imposing outrageous, impossible-to-follow new regulations that would have prevented someone from opening a new gun shop, like Stephanie Gilreath.

It took our members and supporters coming out to Council meetings, writing letters, speaking up, and making their voices heard…but we did it!

Last night, after we took action, the City Council amended their proposed ordinance and removed everything that made it impossible for Stephanie to open her new gun shop.


One of the most compelling portions of this story is that Gilreath, up against opposition that was going to make the conducting of her business impossible, was able to work through the differences with the council. This is a great example of how citizen involvement can occur when there are reasonable people able to discuss the matters with other reasonable people. Gilreath petitioned her local government and was heard, and other activists turned-to to aid as well.

This is a very important event for all Second Amendment supporters, advocates, and activists to take note of. Even those persons who are not politically engaged need to pay attention, because Schwartz did offer up an ominous warning in his statement, “Remember, when one city falls, the neighboring cities often do too – which is why it was so important we blocked this chilling, outrageous effort to destroy the Second Amendment in IB.” Involvement is key!

Congratulations to Gilreath, the San Diego County Gun Owners, and the Imperial Beach town council on working together to get an amicable conclusion. While not every single point of contention has been ironed out, as Gilreath said, perseverance and education will be leading her charge to see that things get further rectified. She further reminded us that it’s important that we stay positive and look to the future with hope. Gilreath’s story is a welcomed breath of fresh air coming from California and we’re wishing her the best of luck with her new endeavors opening Outdoor Woman at a retail location.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member