Stonegate residents oppose firearm ordinance
Sixty-nine residents of the Stonegate subdivision signed a petition against their neighbor David Balderas and his request for a permit to sell firearms out of his home. Their main concern regards a potential increase in traffic in a neighborhood that lacks the space to support a commercial business. At the May 8 Mission City Council meeting, both Balderas and Stonegate residents pleaded their case.
Before applying for a permit, Balderas legally sold firearm accessories online from his home. But he recently acquired a Federal Firearms License that allows him to sell specific serialized firearm parts. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requires a city permit to complete the process. If the council approves the conditional use permit, they will adopt an ordinance.
The city has also approved three other FFLs in the past for the sale of firearms without any issues. But because of the “substantial amount of opposition” city staff is seeking direction from the council.
At the meeting, Balderas stressed that everything he has done when dealing with firearms has been legitimate.
“I do everything proper, I send everything proper. I go to the trade shows, go to little meet-ups and sell legally. I don’t go and sell illegally. I do everything online, on GunBroker,” he said. “If you go to GunBroker, there’s a website that tells you all the local FFLs nearby. In order for you to ship a firearm to someone else, you have to have an FFL license, it can’t just be to a normal civilian without a license.”
But Nancy and Dean Lougheed, who live across the street from Balderas, said they aren’t comfortable with his business in their community.
“We don’t want a gun shop because the people order their stuff online, and then they have to go pick it up in person. His driveway is on 2 Mile, but that doesn’t matter…he is part of our subdivision, and we have one inlet, one outlet, no through traffic and we want to keep it that way,” Nancy Lougheed said. “The whole process of the customer coming to pick it up, the person [leaves] with possession of a firearm — that’s what we’re trying to stop. That’s the activity we’re not comfortable with — at all.”
The petition also states residents’ concerns with the lack of parking, how an increase in traffic could pose a danger to neighborhood children and pets, and how the traffic for the gun shop would affect the value of their homes. Additionally, the document reads, “The homeowners in the neighborhood purchased their residences because of the quiet, established nature of the subdivision and do not want to see a commercial enterprise disrupt that.”
Nancy Lougheed said the petition, signed by taxpayers, should speak volumes to the council and the business owner.
“If I was going to be doing business and trying to get a home business going, and I had that kind of opposition, I guess I would pause, and I would consider another option,” she said.
Alejandro Flores, who spoke in favor of the permit, said he understands the concerns, but the city should want to promote small businesses. Flores is an employee of Danny’s Pawn & Sporting Goods and Point Blank Shooting Range.
“Everything is very by the book and it’s never been skewed to my knowledge,” he said. “Every gun owner, every gun store does everything by the book because the ATF is incredibly [observant] of what these businesses do.”
Last year the former owner of Danny’s Pawn & Sporting Goods pleaded guilty to unlawfully selling ammunition on five occasions.
Albert Balderas, David Balderas’s father, also spoke in support of his son. He said there might not be a lot of traffic because it is a new business, and he reminded the council that his son could refuse service to anyone based on his judgment of the individual. Balderas said his son deserves an opportunity.
“Maybe it won’t work,” he said. “But let’s give him a chance.”
But neighbor Doug Lougheed said he is concerned for his community’s safety.
“We’ve seen a lot of stuff go on. We don’t want the gun violence in our neighborhood. This is happening all over the country, we want to stop it,” Lougheed said. “I’m for guns, but I don’t want people coming in, picking up the guns and walking out. That’s what he said would happen if somebody locally was buying it.”
Lougheed implored the council to deny the permit.
“If he wants to do a firearm sale, start a business, do it the proper way,” the Stonegate resident said to the council. “I’ve heard you’ve stopped other people wanting to open up a business in their home, you can stop this one too.”
The Stonegate residents first presented their petition to city staff at the March 22 Planning & Zoning meeting. P&Z had the item on the agenda to present at the May 8 Mission City Council meeting. But because Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza and Councilmember Abiel Flores were absent, the rest of the council tabled the item to discuss at the May 22 meeting when all members will be present. Mayor Pro-Tem Ruben Plata said the city will notify the concerned parties beforehand.
If there was a 2 neuron requirement to speak at these meetings I wouldn’t have had to read the propaganda filled and aneurysm inducing comments from Nancy and Doug Lougheed.
Hmmm, seems a business should do business in a location zoned commercial. In addition if the subdivision was built as residential subdivision,
and if the item affects all subdivision residents in a negative manner then all residents should receive their money back for their homes. A refund.