SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There are some unusual laws enacted decades ago, designed to protect the community, but do they still make sense in the present day?
“Mr. Freeze kills this guy,” pointed out Kenny Russell in a comic book.
He owns Big Brother Comics in Midtown.
For years he’s been selling these superhero crime-fighting comic books to kids, they make up a big part of his collection
“50 percent or more,” he added.
But now it looks like he’s the one breaking the law. Under a decades-old Sacramento City ordinance: any comic book that portrays a crime is off limits to kids.
“I mean that law’s gotta go,” Russell said.
“My first thought was how could this still be a law, does anybody even know about this?” said local history blogger Nicholas Heidorn.
He spotted the comic book ban while researching old laws.
“I got to thinking Sacramento we’re the oldest city In California, what’s in our municipal code?” he wondered.
The comic book ban dates back to the 1950s when a now-debunked study said they were contributing to the delinquency of youth. That lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority.
“And there’s a mass moral panic spread across the US more than 50 cities regulating comic books,” he said.
Current city leaders say the book ban doesn’t make sense.
“This is something we can get done really quickly,” said Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra.
Another law prohibits unlicensed astrology. That’s right, fortune tellers need a license.
“I didn’t know that,” said Rev. Marion Henshaw who performs clairvoyance at the Berkeley Psychic Institute of Sacramento.
She says their institution falls under an umbrella protected because they’re considered a church, however, this is the only exception. The city still enforces this law with fees costing $188. Currently, there are 11 permits.
Whether old or current, Nicholas says there’s a bigger lesson to be learned from the past
“Whenever you pass a law you’ve got to be thinking 10, 20 years from now is it still going to be relevant?” he said.
Here’s another one: Spitting on the sidewalk along the streets of Sacramento is actually illegal.
The law was passed years ago and is still in effect.
City leaders are looking to see which laws need to be revised and others that need to just be dropped altogether.