Supervisors approve tougher gun rules in county

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Following the recent rash of fatal mass shootings throughout the state, members of the county Board of Supervisors Feb.7 approved a series of new laws tightening regulations on the sale and possession of guns in unincorporated areas.

“We know that blame for the gun violence epidemic lies with the failure of congressional leaders to pass even the most basic federal gun laws,” board Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement following the vote. “Because they have not acted, we have found actions we can take at the county level to protect lives.”

Hahn proposed many of the new ordinance in conjunction with Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath.

Hahn recalled that when she was a congresswoman, the Republican House majority refused to consider such laws even in the face of repeated mass slayings.

“But now we have found actions we can take at the county level to save lives,” she said.

The first of the measures forbids the sale of .50-caliber handguns and ammunition. Hahn noted that such weaponry is intended for combat use.

They are for “tearing apart human flesh. They have no use among civilians,” Hahn said.

Another ordinance approved by the board bans, with the exception of law-enforcement officers and military personnel, the carrying of guns at county facilities such as ball fields and parks.

The board also called for the development of an ordinance that would create a 1,000-foot buffer zone between gun stores and “child-sensitive areas” such as schools. It also requested the drafting of an ordinance that would require all privately owned firearms to be kept under lock and key, and one that would mandate liability insurance for gun owners. It also voted to explore the feasibility of developing a county gun database.

The new and proposed ordinances were the result of a study requested by the board last year in an effort to identify locally enforceable measures to regulate guns. That study led to a drafting of the initial ordinances by county attorneys.

An attorney for the county advised the board there were some doubts about the feasibility of the lock-and-key requirement, noting recent federal court rulings relating to firearms. Hahn asked for further research on the matter.

But the board also called for development of other restrictions relating to gun sales, such as requiring stores to display warning signs about the risks of having firearms in the home, including “unintentional deaths” of children. Another would require gun owners to carry liability insurance.

Steven Lamb, an Altadena gun owner, blasted the measures, saying they water down the primary purpose of owning a gun, “which is to protect you.”

Lamb said forcing of the lockup of guns “would interfere with the guns’ intended purpose of self defense.”

The board also voted to support the bid by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, to reestablish the 10-year national assault rifle ban and to forbid the sale of such firearms and high capacity magazines to those under 21.

Sam Paredes, executive director of the California Gunowners’ Association, said he was skeptical the Feinstein measure would pass.

“Ms. Feinstein has been in the Senate for a long time,” he said. “She keeps resubmitting the same measure every session. I don’t think it will pass the Senate. It certainly won’t make it through the House.”

One of the motions that went before the board noted that firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States. It also noted the Jan. 21 slaying of 11 people in a shooting at a Monterey Park dance studio, the deadliest mass shooting in county history.

“I intend to do whatever is possible to protect Los Angeles County residents, particularly following the tragedy in the First District community of Monterey Park,” Solis said. “Gun-related violence will continue to cause mass damage, trauma and harm if we do not take the necessary steps at all levels of government. This includes supporting key gun safety legislation like Senator Feinstein’s recent action to reinstate the assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban. 

“Today, living in the United States of America means being at risk of becoming a victim of a mass shooting. To that end, time is of the essence.”

“We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent and put an end to gun violence in our community,” Horvath said. “I’m proud to advance common sense gun safety guidelines and to join my board colleagues in our continued demand to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

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