Los Angeles lawmakers voted Tuesday to start drafting a city ordinance that would require residents to lock up their handguns or disable them with trigger locks when they aren’t being used.
The lawmakers are following in the footsteps of San Francisco, which was challenged by gun owners after it passed a similar law seven years ago. The San Francisco restrictions were upheld by a federal appeals court earlier this year.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian has argued that the rules are needed because even though California requires trigger locks to be sold with guns, there was no requirement to actually use them -- a fact he called "nonsensical."
"How this could possibly be controversial is beyond me," Krekorian said, contending that the requirement would not intrude on the rights of responsible gun owners.
Some might "think it is their God-given right to keep an unlocked and loaded firearm on their bedstand ... It is not. It is not their right. It is not responsible," Krekorian said.
The plan was praised by Women Against Gun Violence executive director Margot Bennett and others who spoke out at the Tuesday meeting about how gun violence had affected their lives. The National Rifle Assn. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The council voted 11 to 0 to start drafting the rules. City lawyers will now write a proposed ordinance and bring it back to lawmakers for approval.
At the same meeting, the council also unanimously voted in favor of new rules that require firearm vendors in the city to electronically send records of all ammunition sales to the Police Department. If a seller fails to do so, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Ammunition vendors have had to keep records of their transactions for at least two years, but didn't have to report them to the Los Angeles Police Department unless requested.
Police officers have had to look through those records in person -- a system that Los Angeles lawmakers derided as impractical and inefficient. Krekorian said the new system would help law enforcement check the records against databases of people barred from buying ammunition.
FFLGuard, a group that represents hundreds of federal firearms licensees, opposed the proposed law in a letter sent to council members last year. The group argued that the rules would “only increase the regulatory burden on law-abiding retailers” and are preempted by California law.
However, City Atty. Mike Feuer advised lawmakers that a court ruling had declared some state laws regulating ammunition vendors to be void, which "severely undermines" the argument that city rules were preempted by them. He deemed the city ordinance "legally defensible."
Krekorian praised both sets of requirements as "simple and sensible steps that will keep people safe." Because fewer than a dozen council members were present for the vote Tuesday, the ammunition ordinance will return to the council for a second vote next week.
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