By Lisa P. White Contra Costa Timescontracostatimes.com
Posted: 11/16/2012 03:03:19 PM PST
PLEASANT HILL — During the usual arguments from gun control advocates and gun enthusiasts at a workshop on residential gun sales Thursday, one new piece of information emerged — the online firearms business that prompted the meeting is up and running, police confirmed.
In October 2011, Rico Tedjakusuma received a home occupation permit for an office for LNC Arms. But for months it was unclear if he was selling guns since the LNC Arms website remains under construction.
At the workshop, Councilman Jack Weir said Tedjakusuma is selling guns and that most of his customers find him through online chat rooms where federally licensed gun dealers solicit business.
Tedjakusuma also told police he operates by purchasing a gun from a vendor and shipping the firearm to a federally licensed dealer, who completes the transaction with the buyer, according to Lt. Dan Connelly. Furthermore, the staff report notes that Tedjakusuma has told the city that “firearms are not typically shipped to or stored at the residence.”
Whether Tedjakusuma keeps inventory at home is a major concern of residents who believe residential gun sales threaten public safety. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that from 2005 to 2010, an estimated 172,000 guns per year were stolen during residential burglaries.
Tedjakusuma is a federally licensed firearms dealer and has passed criminal background checks by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Department of Justice, according to Pleasant Hill police. He listed a condominium on Scottsdale Road in the Tres Lagos North development as the business address on his permit application. The business hasn’t caused any problems, police said.
The city held Thursday’s workshop to discuss the sale of guns and ammunition in residential neighborhoods. Although the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s Contra Costa chapter seeks a ban on home gun dealers in Pleasant Hill, the council has no plans to take action on the issue.
Several people who argued against restricting home gun sales cited the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms. However, the courts have ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t prohibit government regulation of firearms dealers. More than 32 California counties and cities — including Antioch and Lafayette — require a police permit or land use permit, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national advocacy group.
Barbara Wagner, who lives in the Tres Lagos condominium development, believes the city shouldn’t have approved Tedjakusuma’s home occupation permit.
“If he wants to do this he should have a store,” Wagner wrote in an email to the council. “(A) home gun business is a threat to public safety because firearms can be stolen, and who knows what kind of clients he has who are angry at him and show up at his house, which is across from where I live.”
Bruce Lesser, who also lives in Pleasant Hill, slammed the Brady Campaign and dismissed the group’s concerns as a “fabricated issue.”
“There’s no problem,” said Lesser, who exhorted the council members to uphold the Constitution. “Where this all started was with a radical, left-wing group.”
Pleasant Hill’s zoning code does not require public notice or a public hearing for a “home occupation” use as an office, so Tedjakusuma’s neighbors weren’t notified about his intention to sell firearms, nor did the council review his proposal.
Pleasant Hill resident Bruce Weissenberger acknowledged the possibility that the exposure from a hearing could make a home occupation gun dealer a target for thieves. But he argued that the public process often leads to better conditions on a use permit, and he urged the council to err on the side of greater disclosure.
“I want to know what’s going on beside me in my neighborhood.”