Imbert and Smithers gun store shuts down.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has finally shut down Imbert & Smithers, a well-known gun store in San Carlos, California. Imbert & Smithers was a business that has been in operation since the 1960s and passed on to three generations, the latest being Rolsky-Feige’s father since 1989. The San Carlos City Council has taken over the lease of the store and will no longer enable another gun store to open in I&S’s stead. Replacing it would have been a challenging task due to the opposition of gun stores by a significant number of San Carlos residents.
History of Anti-Fire Arm Sentiment, Policy, and I&S Closure in San Carlos.
Across the country, gun stores have faced increasing scrutiny in recent years. Heightened concerns surrounding gun violence and public safety have prompted legislative actions and societal debates about the accessibility and regulation of firearms. This shifting landscape has resulted in changing perspectives within communities, including San Carlos.
Prior to the 2019 legislation of gun policies in San Carlos, in 2017 an application was submitted by Turner Outdoorsman to open a store near REI on Industrial Road. This caused anger in the community, with around 100 residents speaking at a meeting on Nov. 13, 2017, with many in support of stopping Turner Outdoorsman from opening.
In the years following, worries within the community regarding firearms retailers had increased and the San Carlos City Council had to enforce a temporary ban on new gun stores in the region, resulting in the establishment of stringent regulations in 2019 that prohibited gun stores from operating in close proximity to schools, parks, preschools, and other areas where people gather.
While Imbert & Smithers remained compliant to these policies, a raid by the ATF in December 2022 exposed the store’s non-compliance to the 2019 city ordinance which required firearms dealers to have proper surveillance systems, such as cameras, in place. This section of the ordinance was put into effect in early 2022. This led to I&S’s feneral license being revoked, thus prohibiting them from selling firearms. Further details of the issue as reported by the Daily Post’s says that the closure was due to technical errors from paper work – a word from attorney Richard Pierce. According to the same source, the ATF did not give a response when they requested more information on the matter.
Following the revocation of the store’s license in December 2022, Jeana Rolsky-Feige, the owner, started searching for a replacement gun store to occupy the location at 1144 El Camino Real. However, due to the stringent regulations governing gun stores in San Carlos, Rolsky-Feige had six months to secure a new tenant for her premises, as stated in a report by City Attorney Greg Rubens. Imbert & Smithers’ location is protected by a grandfather clause, making it unlikely that any new gun store would be allowed to occupy the same space.
Come June 2023, since Rolsky-Feige has exceeded their 6-months grace period to find another gun store, the city is considering acquiring the lease for the recently vacated property. The San Carlos City Council has proposed purchasing Rolsky-Feige’s lease for $390,000, covering the remainder of the year and taking over the $7,300 monthly payments until the lease expires on February 1, 2027.
While there is currently no definite strategy in place for the location, authorities in the city have proposed that companies that have been displaced due to housing projects on newly acquired plots could potentially occupy the area located at 1144 El Camino Real. Such a move would represent a major change in both the property’s function and the outlook of the local community towards it.
Meanwhile, San Carlos residents who are opting to purchase firearms will now have to travel to other locations like Coyote Point Armory in Burlingame or the few stores available in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.
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