L.A. Considers Ammunition Sale Curbs


Borrowing a novel idea from Pasadena, a Los Angeles City Council committee Monday took initial steps to restrict ammunition sales within city limits.

The council's Public Safety Committee asked the city attorney to draft a possible ordinance patterned on Pasadena's hotly debated proposal to limit youths' access to bullets.

The Pasadena City Council on Monday night approved an ordinance to require ammunition purchasers to provide identification and to fill out registration forms with key details. The vote followed a night of contentious debate.

But Los Angeles Councilman Marvin Braude saw no reason to wait for the outcome before grabbing the idea for his own violence-ridden city.

"It's an extraordinary thing for the city of Pasadena to take this action," Braude said hours before the smaller city's council was to meet. "It's a courageous thing for them to do this."

Braude's proposal won support from the two other committee members, Councilwoman Laura Chick and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

"If it makes it harder to buy ammunition, I'm interested," Chick said.

Once the measure is drafted, the Police Commission will be asked to review it before it goes to the full City Council.

Braude noted that the effectiveness of such measures increases with the number of other cities in the area that adopt similar restrictions.

As have many of its municipal neighbors, Los Angeles has long struggled to curtail the use of weapons on its streets and in its schools.

Since 1989, when Los Angeles banned the sale of military-style assault weapons (the ordinance was later preempted when the state enacted a similar law), council members have tried various ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

In 1990, the council passed a law banning ammunition sales for seven days before the New Year's and Fourth of July holidays, when some revelers like to celebrate by firing guns skyward.

The following year, Councilwoman Rita Walters proposed restricting ammunition sales all year and registering guns, but city attorneys found that the measure conflicted with state law.

The council fared better with a 1992 proposal to make it harder to open new gun shops. The measure, which requires public hearings before shop permits are issued, passed 12 to 1.

Braude the next year suggested lobbying the state Legislature for greater local gun controls and holding conferences on gun control.

And last year, Councilman Joel Wachs suggested giving $600 rewards to those who inform on anyone illegally possessing or firing a gun. That proposal is still awaiting a committee hearing.

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