A soon-to-be vacant gun store in Culver City has a new owner: the city itself.
Earlier this month, Culver City announced plans to purchase the Martin B. Retting Gun Store on Washington Boulevard for a price tag of more than $6 million.
The gunshop was a mainstay in Culver City for more than six decades, but in July, its longtime owners announced the store would be closing shop.
After 65 years in business, with the company staying in the hands of various members of the Retting family throughout, retirement beckoned its current owners.
“Despite having overcome and flourished after everything the firearms industry could throw at us, it turns out that the one thing we can’t defeat is the inevitable march of time,” store management wrote in a note to customers posted on its website.
The store became the subject of public ire in recent years due to its close proximity to La Ballona Elementary School.
It was also listed in a 2022 report by the California Department of Justice identifying it as one of the state’s top sources of guns that were illegally possessed, were used in the commission of a crime, or were suspected of having been used in a crime.
Years ago, Culver City passed an ordinance that prohibits gun sellers from operating businesses near schools, but the gun store received leniency due to its longtime residency and was allowed to keep doing business.
But those rights were transferrable, officials said, meaning if the storefront were to ever be sold, a new one could quickly take its place.
Yasmine Imani-McMorrin, the city’s vice mayor, said the city listened to input from the community and determined many were worried about public safety if a new store were to open.
“They had concerns about their families’ well-being,” Imani-Mcmorrin told KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff.
At a Sept. 11 city council meeting, the council met to discuss the sale and listen to feedback from the community. A crowd of mostly supporters gathered in the chambers to urge councilmembers to vote in support of the city’s purchase.
“Ending gun sales in our school zones will have an impact on our children and families that will be felt for generations,” said Melody Hanson, a mother and member of Culver 878, a local gun safety advocacy group.
After public comment ended, the council unanimously voted in favor of purchasing the property for $6.5 million. But despite the unanimous support from the council, not all in Culver City were encouraged by the sale.
Gary Zeiss, a Culver City resident who called into oppose the purchase, raised concerns about the overall cost of the property, which he said was significantly above market value.
“I am not a Second Amendment proponent by any stretch of the imagination, however I am a proponent of good government,” Zeiss said. “There’s no evidence that the value of the property is in any way proportional to the value of other properties in the area.”
Zeiss also questioned why the property was being purchased without any definitive plans on how it will be used.
In a statement provided to KTLA Wednesday, Mayor Albert Vera confirmed that there was no immediate plan for the property, but said it will eventually serve the community as a whole.
“The City’s decision to purchase the building is in large part from listening to the community and its desire to have a different use for that location. It will be an involved process with the community on the next steps for that building and what it ultimately will become,” the statement reads.
The Martin B. Retting Gun Store initially planned to shutter its doors at the end of July, but it remained open as recently as early September. Despite the retirement of its owners, guns and other merchandise were being sold at their original prices because the business closure was “not a liquidation, clearance or distress sale.”
The store’s phone number has since been disconnected.