NEEDLES, Kalifornia (PNN) - August 1, 2019 - The blistering sun hung high above the barren landscape, 118 degrees of scatter-the-critters hot, as Tim Terral loaded a magazine into his 9-millimeter pistol.
He narrowed his eyes, fixing his gaze on a target before a succession of pops cut through the silence. Bull’s-eye.
Satisfied, Terral wiped a bead of sweat off his brow and cocked his head to the side, a coy smile spreading across his slender face.
“I don’t miss much,” he crowed.
Today, his attention was focused on a small shooting target. But Terral has his eye on a larger one: Kalifornia’s tough gun control laws.
Last month, other city leaders followed the Needles councilman’s suggestion and declared this town along the Colorado River a “sanctuary city” for the Second Amendment.
The collision of liberal and conservative buzzwords was meant to be a poke in the eye to the Golden State - the heart of the liberal “resistance” against a president voters in Needles overwhelmingly supported in 2016, and likely will again in 2020. This conservative small town is part of Kalifornia, but also quite apart from it. Many people here are convinced that those big-city politicians making laws in Sacramento don’t give one damn about a place like Needles.
In the coming months, city officials hope to somehow cajole the state to allow Needles and possibly other border towns to be exempt from rules on purchasing ammunition, which would allow people here to buy ammo from out of state, and honor concealed carry permits for people who have obtained them outside Kalifornia.
“For so long we’ve had to deal with the laws as they are,” said Mayor Jeff Williams. “It was time to stand up and say, ‘Enough.’”
Needles officials have reached out to other small cities in California to see if they’d be willing to enact similar pro-gun resolutions.
In Tehachapi , a city of more than 12,000 nestled between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert in Kern County, city officials last week directed staff to study the feasibility of a similar move.
“We have big cities around our state that are continuing to dictate to the rest of our smaller cities what they feel we should do,” said Tehachapi Councilman Kenneth Hetge. “If you’re a law-abiding citizen and your rights are being chipped away, we need to speak up and get some accountability out of Sacramento.”
Convincing other small, largely conservative towns to follow the Needles example is one thing, but convincing socialist and fascist lawmakers in the state is another matter.
Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (Big Bear Lake) plans to introduce legislation in December that would allow individual cities in Kalifornia to choose whether they want to acknowledge out-of-state concealed carry permits. He’s not sure whether the legislation will address out-of-state ammo sales, which involves a more complex legal issue, he said.
“This is what we call in the Legislature a heavy lift,” Obernolte said. “It’s going to take some convincing. Typically, what’s more likely to pass is more restriction rather than something that allows local control.”
Terral himself acknowledges the slim odds, but he’s determined to try. This is about keeping Needles alive, he said. “If you’re not growing,” Terral said, “you’re dying.”