L.A. councilman takes rare step in bid to expedite proposed gun-lock law

The battle over a city proposal to require Los Angeles residents to lock up or disable their handguns at home took an unusual turn Tuesday, as a city councilman sought to force the proposed law out of a committee weighing whether to exempt some Angelenos from the storage rules.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who has championed the proposed rules as a way to protect children from fatal accidents, is pursuing a rarely used maneuver to bring the draft ordinance before the entire council, instead of allowing a smaller council committee to continue to debate it.

"Unsafe storage of handguns is an immediate threat to public safety," Krekorian said Tuesday.

Under the proposed law, Angelenos would have to lock up their handguns or disable them with a trigger lock when they were not being carried or used at home. The City Council voted to draft the requirements in November, but the final wording still must be approved by lawmakers.

The L.A. ordinance would not apply to police officers currently working for the city or serving as reserve officers. But the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the officers' union, wants retired officers to be exempt as well, arguing that the storage rules could hamper former cops from reacting swiftly to threats.

Responding to those concerns, Councilman Mitch Englander suggested lifting the rules for anyone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon — a group that includes judges, current and retired officers and other applicants approved by local law enforcement officials.

At a Friday meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Englander asked city lawyers to rewrite the proposal to exempt those permit holders from the storage requirements, saying permit applicants are carefully vetted and trained. Councilman and committee member Joe Buscaino, a former L.A. police officer, backed that approach, saying the proposed ordinance is meant to target "irresponsible gun owners."

But Krekorian balked at the idea of exempting those with concealed weapons permits. He argued the change suggested by his colleagues would "destroy a reasonable and measured policy that is designed to save the lives of children." Two other council members who sit on the committee also were uneasy with the suggested exemption.

Englander said he was not able to immediately comment on Krekorian's move Tuesday to pull the matter out of committee. Los Angeles Police Protective League director Peter Repovich said Tuesday that the union would make its case wherever the proposal is discussed by lawmakers.

"It's all about enhancing public safety and not tying the hands of our law enforcement professionals," Repovich said.

Buscaino said in a statement that retired officers have "extensive training in handling firearms" and that lawmakers "should defer to their judgment on how to secure and store their weapons."

Eight votes are needed among the 15 council members to pull the proposed ordinance out of committee and bring it before the full body. With the council preparing for its summer recess, the matter is not expected to come before lawmakers for weeks. Krekorian is also seeking to pull another proposed ordinance — one that would ban Angelenos from possessing large-capacity ammunition magazines — away from the Public Safety Committee and bring it before the full council.

The council voted to draft that law more than two years ago, but a final version has not been approved by the committee. It's been more than a year since that proposal was last discussed by the committee.

Both measures have been opposed by gun rights groups, which have threatened to sue the city if it presses ahead with the restrictions.


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