The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion on Tuesday that will require gun owners to keep handguns inside residences in a locked container or to use trigger locks.
The motion was authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian, 2nd District, and is the second gun safety measure approved in the last two weeks by the city council. On July 28, the council approved another Krekorian measure to ban possession of high-capacity gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“What we voted on will cement L.A. as the leading voice in the fight to keep children and families safe from gun violence,” Krekorian said. “The city council unanimously approved the strongest, most significant and most robust law in the state that requires responsible gun owners to act responsibly. I hope that other cities, states and Congress will follow our lead.”
As a procedural matter, the policy will come back to the city council next week for a final vote. A draft ordinance has been sent to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which is expected to sign-off on the ordinance and send it back to the council next week.
Ian Thompson, a deputy to Krekorian, said some minor changes were made to the wording of the motion pertaining to when handguns are not required to be locked. The only time handguns are not required to be locked is when they are carried by the owner or are within the owner’s “close proximity and control,” according to the motion. That stipulation addressed concerns by law enforcement that they would not have quick access to their handguns.
After being signed into law, the ordinance will give police another tool when they enter private residences for other reasons and find unsecured handguns. Violators could face misdemeanor charges.
Krekorian said the main focus is keeping firearms out of the hands of children. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer applauded the city council’s approval of the safe storage motion.
“It’s crucial that lawful gun owners safely store their weapons. Otherwise, kids and criminals can get access to guns, with potentially tragic results,” Feuer said. “That’s why I’ve prosecuted adults whom we allege haven’t stored their guns safely, only to have children take those guns to school.”
The city’s policy would be more restrictive than California state law, which requires that locks be sold with handguns, but does not specifically stipulate that gun owners use the locks. Los Angeles is the largest city in California to approve a safe storage requirement.
“Every year, thousands of children are unintentionally killed or injured by handguns that aren’t stored properly in people’s homes,” Krekorian added. “This measure will help prevent these accidental shootings by clearly mandating that handguns must be stored safely or locked. It’s time for government at all levels to step up and do what’s necessary to prevent this unnecessary violence.”
Mark Selmi, chief public affairs officer for the law firm of Michel and Associates, which represents the NRA in California, issued a statement about the passage of the safe storage motion.
“The state of California already has in place felony criminal penalties for the improper storage of firearms. The Los Angeles City Council’s attempt to usurp the state’s authority, and impose a misdemeanor penalty not only represents a vacuous attempt at enforcement, but illegally impedes that regulatory scheme and is preempted by state law,” Selmi said. “Firearm owners should store their firearms responsibly, safe from children and other unauthorized users. How this is accomplished however, should be a personal decision based upon the specific needs of the firearm owner. Single women who live alone in high-crime areas, and who may require prompt access to a firearm for self-defense, do not have the same storage needs as families in gated communities.”
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