Los Angeles Council OKs Measure on Locking Away Handguns

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Guns and kids a dangerous mix: L.A. mandates safer weapon storage.

LOS ANGELES — Handgun owners in Los Angeles will be required to store their firearms in locked containers or disable the weapons with trigger locks under a law unanimously approved Tuesday by the City Council. The rule, which would require gun owners to keep their handguns either disabled with a trigger lock or stored in a locked container, is similar to ordinances in San Francisco, New York City, and a statewide law in Massachusetts.Los Angeles lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a new law requiring Angelenos to lock up or disable their handguns at home if they aren’t close at hand.The measure (PDF), which is backed by Councilman Paul Krekorian, aims to keep weapons away from children or others who could unintentionally harm themselves.As Republican and Democratic presidential candidates continue to agree to disagree about gun control, L.A.’s leaders have reached a consensus on how handguns should be handled and stored at home.

The council voted 14-0 to pass the ordinance that requires handguns be locked up, disabled, kept on the owner’s person or placed within that person’s reach. Krekorian told KNX 1070 police will only be able to enforce the law under specific circumstances, such as “when the police have an interaction with a family for example that’s engaged in domestic violence, or when a county work checks on home in a child welfare check.” (©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave first approval to an ordinance requiring firearms dealers to make video recordings of all sales and submit weekly reports to police identifying buyers along with the type and amount of ammo sold.

Krekorian said more preschoolers are killed with guns annually than police officers. “It’s unacceptable to live in a country where it’s more dangerous to be a preschooler than to be a police officer — and we can do something about that today,” Krekorian said. Krekorian was referring to a statistic in a New York Times op-ed that noted 82 “preschoolers,” or children 4 years or younger, were fatally shot in 2013, compared with 27 police officers killed while in the line of duty — most with guns — that same year. That law, which goes into effect next month, is currently being challenged in a lawsuit filed by a pair of law enforcement groups, more than two dozen county sheriffs, and the California Rifle and Pistol Association, an official state affiliate of the National Rifle Association. When they are on the person of the gun’s owner, on the person of a lawfully authorized gun user who is over the age of 18, or within close enough proximity to either the gun’s owner or another lawfully authorized gun user who is over the age of 18 to be “retrieved and used as if carried on the person.” Notably, the law does not make an exception for law enforcement agents. Gun rights activists have warned they may sue over the rules, arguing that city lawmakers shouldn’t decide how people choose to protect themselves in their homes.

L.A. is already being sued over another gun control measure passed this year — a ban on firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition — on the grounds that it is preempted by state law. The ordinance, which follows another passed in July banning the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, regulates handguns only in residences within the city’s limits, but the document seems to make a case for wider reform.

The Council had already voted in favor of the gun storage rules earlier this year, but city lawyers still had to hammer out the final wording of the ordinance. Rhonda Foster with Women Against Gun Violence asked the council to exclude the allowances, saying “our homes are our sanctuary, our safe haven.” Asked if he was concerned the provisions could create ambiguity in the law, Krekorian said the intent of the law is to make sure the guns are always in a person’s control whenever they are not disabled or locked away. The law sets a “pretty clear mandate, and how that will be applied in any given situation by the courts … That’s why we have the courts, they’ll apply it in an appropriate way,” Krekorian said. It is unclear exactly what the rules could mean in specific situations — for instance, whether someone could sleep with a loaded gun on his or her nightstand.

The question of whether someone was in control “would be a case by case, fact-based determination made by a court,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the committee that eventually advanced the measure, said “these are common sense solutions” for such instances as when a gun owner is cleaning a gun. “I want to thank Mr. Krekorian said police won’t be going door-to-door to examine how guns are stored but could encounter violations while reacting to other calls or in the aftermath of a shooting.

Krekorian and Englander stood side by side at a news conference after the vote, where Englander attributed the talk of a delay to “a miscommunication.” Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to sign the law, which would go into effect 30 days after he does so.

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