A proposal to put a gun shop downtown in the building that used to house the Pinnacle newspaper has gotten mixed reviews from the community.
Some say we need all the merchants we can get downtown. Anything is better than the vacant and boarded up buildings we have now.
Others worry about the image it would make in a downtown that is striving to match those of Morgan Hill or Los Gatos, as a place to bring families, with a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment that would entice out-of-towners to what should be one of the most quaint and authentic downtowns in the Bay Area.
It’s funny that we get tourists from Los Angeles who think of Gilroy as a must-see. Garbo’s, the successful antique store, started out advertising down south and got a huge response from travelers looking to venture into a town that still has a historical, agrarian feel. They liked what they found here, even as they thumbed their noses at some of their own small towns.
“I found out that when you mentioned Gilroy in San Francisco, people went, ‘eww,’ but in L.A., they think Gilroy is charming. Of course, they don’t like Pomona,” said Bruce Dane, Garbo’s owner.
So, some might argue, a gun shop could bring more authenticity and a Wild West feel. We buy that, to an extent. Something about it just makes us bristle.
Is that really the best location for a heavily secured store where people are going to buy weapons? Is that the image you want people to take away from Gilroy? Do we want to be the weapons capital of the South Valley?
There’s Predator’s Archery on the right, a nice gun shop on the left and over there down the street is a nuclear warhead shop. And, as wag Jack Foley said, we could turn the carpet store into a carpet bomb store.
We don’t want to come off as radically anti-gun. There are plenty of local hunters and there are an estimated 270 million guns in this country, or 89 for every 100 residents, based on a Swiss study. They aren’t going away anytime soon. There are also already eight permitted places in Gilroy you can buy a gun. These are home businesses and most people are unaware of them.
We know that a gun store goes through strict permitting processes. Police are involved to make sure the place is safe. Despite that, nationwide, there are plenty of shooting incidents in gun stores, even one in 2011 at Watsonville’s Big 5.
All that said, it comes down to a question of image and perception. Mayor Perry Woodward—a hunter—says the store could bring shoppers here who now have to travel to other cities to buy their rifles and handguns. But Woodward also says he wants to see a time when people in Morgan Hill, which keeps getting more and more upscale, envy Gilroy’s downtown.
Is a gun store, rather than, say, an Apple store, something that would make our downtown sizzle, especially across the street from what the mayor hopes will be a family plaza for entertainment?
Gilroyans have said no to downtown adult bookstores and marijuana shops, even though they are legal in other cities. They don’t want children looking in store windows and getting the wrong messages. We think they should apply the same standards to weapons. Keep them safe and tucked away, not glorified downtown near the parades and concerts and the ceramics studios and sewing stores.