LOS ANGELES — It seemed like an unlikely, but effective, resolution: To keep another gun store from opening up in Culver City and replacing one that was shutting down, city officials decided to buy the controversial shop itself.
The Martin B. Retting gun store along Washington Boulevard, emblazoned with a huge mural of a rifle and the word “GUNS” painted in oversize letters, had operated in the city for 65 years. In recent years, it drew mounting objections from some parents and residents in light of a spate of school shootings across the country and its proximity to an elementary school, even after the city clamped down on firearms dealers near schools. Grandfathered in and allowed to continue operating, it could have transferred those rights to a new owner.
With a $6.5 million price tag, the cost was “on the high end” of commercial real estate in the area, city staffers said during the Sept. 11 meeting where the City Council voted to buy the store, but parents and gun control advocates argued the price was worth it to stop another gun store from taking its place.
“It’s high, but it is an investment in the safety of this community and our kids,” said Megan Oddsen, a member of Culver 878, a group of residents and parents who advocate for local gun safety measures.
Although the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase, not all residents applauded the move to spend millions of dollars to keep another gun dealer from setting up shop.
“This is bad governance hiding under a social issue that needs to be addressed, no question,” resident Gary Zeiss said during the meeting.
Others worried that even though gun violence is a social issue that needs to be addressed, the city was paying an inflated price for the property to do so.
“Purchasing that property is not going to solve that problem,” said Marta Valdez.
But advocates for gun control argued that the shop, which had a history of violations and safety concerns, was a valid target.
A recent report from the California Department of Justice found that from 2010 to 2022, the Martin B. Retting gun store ranked among the state’s top 10 sources of “crime guns,” defined as “recovered firearms that are illegally possessed, have been used in a crime, or are suspected of having been used in a crime.”
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