BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A moratorium was enacted Wednesday in Burbank barring the establishment of new or replacement gun stores, with the City Council approving a pause to consider "regulatory frameworks'' for such businesses.
The Tuesday night vote by the Burbank City Council followed a series of protests by residents who argued that the city has one of the highest concentrations of gun stores in the nation, with a total of 14.
"What they sell hurts kids," said Kelly Meyers, a Burbank middle school student who issued a passionate plea during Tuesday's meeting. "They make us live in fear, they intimidate us and scare us. These stores don't help us come together on any day. As we saw with the latest opening, Burbank's gun stores only divide our community."
Last month, a group of residents held a rally outside Burbank City Hall demanding action on the issue.
In response, the council Tuesday night approved a 45-day moratorium "on the establishment of new or replacement retail businesses selling firearms or ammunition,'' according to the city.
During the moratorium, city staff will research possible regulations, including:
- limiting firearms businesses by suspending the issuance and new licenses and allowing the overall number to be reduced over time through attrition;
- establishing additional requirements for firearms retailers seeking license renewals, or imposing rules such as local inspections of inventory, transaction procedures and security; and
- establishing buffer zones to prevent such businesses from locating near "sensitive'' sites, such as schools.
"We hear and understand the community's concerns regarding firearms and firearm retailers in Burbank, which is why City Council advocates for measures that seek to keep our community safe while also protecting an individual's right to lawfully bear arms under the Second Amendment,'' Mayor Jess Talamantes said in a statement Tuesday. "By establishing this temporary moratorium staff can further look into firearm-related measures to preserve the general welfare of our community.''
Some of the gun stores in Burbank are located near schools and churches, which is causing the uproar from citizens.
City officials noted that the current number of firearms stores in the city has not created "an inordinate demand for public safety services,'' but the city acknowledged concerns from residents about the proximity of some stores to schools, parks and places of worship.
"Staff will come back to council with potential land-use regulations concerning firearms, and this may include enacting a buffer zone and prevent the establishment of firearm retailers near sensitive locations, such as schools and places of worship," said interim communications manager for the city of Burbank Jonathan Jones.
The temporary moratorium does not affect current gun stores in Burbank, however, after the 45 days, the City Council could enact another moratorium for 10 months and 15 days to make a year and enact possible changes to lower the number of gun stores in the city.
"Limiting the number of fire arm retailers in the city by suspending the issuance of new licenses and allowing the number of retailers to decline over time through attrition," explained Jones.
Jones told Eyewitness News there are no active applications for a gun store in Burbank, but the issue remains if the City Council will change any zoning laws.
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.