PLEASANT HILL -- The local chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is holding a candlelight vigil next week to honor the victims of the Newtown school massacre and to show support for the president's gun control proposals.

Members of the Contra Costa chapter will meet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25, at the corner of Gregory Lane and Cleaveland Road.

The Brady Campaign supports President Barack Obama's call for universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, strict federal gun trafficking laws, and laws to prevent seriously mentally ill people from acquiring firearms, said Karen Arntzen, a member of the Contra Costa chapter.

Arntzen, who has worked with the Brady Campaign for more than 13 years, said she hasn't seen such broad public support for gun control legislation since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

She pointed to a recent Quinnipiac University poll finding that 92 percent of Americans support universal background checks, the Oakley City Council's recent ban on residential ammunition sales, and protests against a Los Gatos gun store as evidence that people want stronger gun laws.

"People don't want to trample on the Second Amendment, and the Brady Campaign does not want to trample on the Second Amendment," Arntzen said. "But people feel strongly that guns need to be regulated, and they're asking their elected officials to do that and to take responsibility for it."


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Arntzen said the Brady Campaign also will renew its push for the Pleasant Hill City Council to ban home occupation firearms dealers and to adopt an ordinance regulating gun sales modeled on one the city of Pinole passed last year.

In addition to banning home occupation firearms and ammunition dealers, the Pinole ordinance requires a conditional use permit, a police chief permit, a public hearing process and other safety measures for gun stores.

There are three licensed retail firearms dealers in Pleasant Hill -- City Arms East, The Gunworks, and Big 5 Sporting Goods. A Dick's Sporting Goods store to be built in the Crossroads Shopping Center likely would be the fourth.

In November, Pleasant Hill held a workshop to discuss the sale of guns and ammunition in residential neighborhoods.

Gun control advocates believe home gun dealers are a public safety threat because firearms could be stolen.

Gun rights supporters have argued that restricting firearms sales is unconstitutional.

However, the courts have ruled that the Second Amendment doesn't prohibit government regulation of firearms dealers. At least 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.

Contra Costa County and several Bay Area cities, including Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond, have banned home gun sales.

For years, the National Rifle Association has blocked efforts to pass new federal gun control legislation. With the nation reeling from the tragedy of 20 children and seven adults killed in Newtown, Conn., supporters believe this time will be different.

"We're very optimistic and very hopeful that it's going to actually happen," Arntzen said.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.

if you go
What: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence vigil for Newtown massacre victims
When: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 25
Where: Corner of Gregory Lane and Cleaveland Road, in front of Pleasant Hill City Hall