Profile No. 16

Municipal Firearms Ordinances, East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership -- Oakland, CA

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Program to deter illegal gun possession.

Program Goal:
To pass municipal ordinances that reduce the availability of and access to illegal and unsafe guns.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Federal firearm dealers.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
16 communities in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Evaluated by:
Resource Development Associates, Oakland, CA.

Contact Information:
Maria Theresa Viramontes, Executive Director
East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership
1222 Preservation Parkway
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510­832­7071

Years of Operation:

The East Bay Gun Violence Prevention Project was initiated by the East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership (EBPSCP), a regional coordinating body formed to reduce crime and violence in response to an alarming level of gun violence among cities in the East Bay Corridor. Among the 16 communities of the East Bay Corridor, there had been 252 homicides in 1993, 238 in 1994, and 215 in 1995. There was a general belief that Federal and State legislators were not doing enough to control the flow of guns into the area. In 1994, faced with the presence of more than 400 gun dealers in Alameda County and 700 in Contra Costa County, the Corridor cities of Oakland, Richmond, and San Pablo began working to pass municipal ordinances to better regulate gun sales and eliminate residential gun dealers (i.e., dealers who sell guns out of their homes or cars) as part of a public health approach to violence prevention.

Participating municipalities attempted to implement the following policies: banning the manufacture and sale of "junk guns"; requiring triggerlocks at the point of sale; restricting the number of licensed gun dealers and the areas in which they can operate; and placing a gross receipts tax on merchandise sold by gun dealers. To date, 16 Corridor communities, including the cities of Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley, have banned junk guns; triggerlock ordinances were passed in 11 communities; restrictions on gun dealers were passed in 8 other Corridor communities; and the gross receipts sales tax proposal went on the ballot in 3 communities in 1998. It is still too early to measure the impact of these new ordinances. However, as a result of the gun dealer ordinances passed in Oakland, the number of gun dealers in the city dropped from 115 to 7 within 1 year. Similarly, the number of gun dealers in Richmond declined from 15 to 2.

Moreover, as a result of these ordinances, ATF and local police were able to increase monitoring of the smaller number of remaining dealers to ensure their compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

The passage of municipal firearm ordinances is one element of a collaborative, comprehensive strategy that was implemented in the East Bay Corridor to address escalating violent crime rates. For a more detailed description of this effort and a discussion of how the program fits into the Corridor's overall crime-reduction strategy, see profile 5 (East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership) and profile 4 (Comprehensive Homicide Initiative, Richmond, CA).

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report