L.A. County passes gun control measures after mass shootings

A police officer walks across a street marked off by yellow crime tape after a mass shooting in Monterey Park.
Police officers at the scene of last month’s mass shooting in Monterey Park.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of gun control measures Tuesday on the heels of last month’s mass shooting in Monterey Park, just eight miles away from the boardroom.

The package included roughly half a dozen measures aimed at curbing fatal shootings within the county. Most will need to go through additional vetting before they become county law.

Only two ordinances discussed Tuesday are expected to take effect soon. One would prohibit the sale of .50-caliber handguns — firearms with half-inch-thick bullets — in unincorporated L.A. County. (The state had banned most .50-caliber rifles nearly two decades ago.) The second would prohibit carrying firearms on county property, which includes beaches, parks and buildings — even if the person has a concealed carry permit. There is an exception for law enforcement.


The board will take a final vote on the motion, authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, in two weeks.

“Here we are: Facing a gun violence epidemic that continues to devastate our communities,” Hahn said. “Today we’re taking steps forward in our fight against gun violence.”

Twice as many likely voters think it’s more important to control gun ownership than it is to protect gun rights, according to a survey released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Feb. 2, 2023

Several other measures related to gun reform discussed Tuesday will take more time to implement.

The county is working on zoning restrictions that would enact a 1,000-foot buffer zone between gun stores and “child safety zones,” which Hahn defined in the meeting as places where children gather, such as playgrounds. The county is also considering an ordinance that would enhance regulations for gun dealers, including requirements that they maintain security cameras and keep a fingerprint log.

These regulations would apply only to gun dealers in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County.

The supervisors also asked the county’s lawyers Tuesday to start drafting three separate ordinances aimed at keeping guns solely in the hands of those who know how to use them.


One would require gun stores within the county to prominently display warning signs stating that having a gun in the home increases the “risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic disputes and unintentional deaths to children.”

Another would require gun owners to have liability insurance. County leaders say they hope insurance would require gun owners to take classes on how to safely use and store guns.

And one would require guns kept at home to be safely stored in a locked container or disabled by using a trigger lock. California already has a law that makes it a crime to leave a firearm in a place where it’s easily accessible to a minor. The county said it wants to build on this by delineating specific methods that gun owners must use to safely store their gun.

The motion that kick-started these ordinances was authored by Solis and Supervisor Lindsey Horvath.

Officials speculated publicly Tuesday that the safe storage rules were the part of the package most likely to hit legal snags.

At the meeting, Hahn indicated she was concerned the proposal would be ruled unconstitutional due to the recent Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. Inc. vs. Bruen. In that case, the court ruled any restrictions on gun ownership must be rooted in American history dating to the period when the 2nd Amendment was ratified.


Attorney C.D. Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Assn., said he believed the county’s gun reform package violated the 1st and 2nd amendments, and he planned to challenge it in court.

For some in the audience — and behind the dais — the safe storage debate hit close to home.

Horvath said someone she‘d played with as a child lost his life after playing with a gun that his parents kept in an unlocked closet.

Stacey Moseley, a volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action, said her husband survived an accidental shooting in a home when he was a child. Of everything that passed Tuesday, she believed the storage measure would have the largest effect.

“If we can keep guns out of the hands of people who are not supposed to have them — either through theft or a child that finds it in a closet — we can save lives,” Moseley said.


Experts point to a growing body of research that show safe storage laws can reduce suicides and unintentional shootings involving youths.

Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said she believed the safe storage rules, along with the new regulations for gun dealers and the ban on guns on county property, plugged important gaps not currently filled by the state.

She wasn’t sure about the insurance requirements, a relatively novel concept.

“We do have questions about just how far it can really go to prevent gun violence since generally you can’t insure against criminal acts,” she said. “I’m not yet really sure how much compensation is really going to occur under that requirement.”

Steven Lamb, an Altadena resident and former council member, said he found the board’s package — notably the gun safety storage measure — “outrageous.” Lamb, who said he has owned a century-old .22-caliber single shot Remington since he was 7, wanted easy access to his gun.

“It makes the gun useless for its intended purpose, which is to protect you,” he said, adding he did not trust the police to get to his house in a reasonable time if someone broke in.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she supported the package but wanted to see the county do more to crack down on guns that are illegally purchased.

“When we do things like this, my concern is we are not getting to the root cause of what is going on,” Barger said. “The impact is it’s a false sense of security.”