LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Gun owners would be required to store their firearms in locked containers, disable them with trigger locks or keep them within their control under a proposal given preliminary support by the Los Angeles City Council.
The council voted 14-0 to instruct its attorneys to prepare the ordinance, which would closely follow a recent Sunnyvale law that has so far stood up to legal challenges from gun rights groups, proponents said. The ordinance will have to return to the council for a final vote.
The measure was championed by Councilman Paul Krekorian, with the support of five other council members. Members of Women Against Gun Violence and other anti-gun-violence activists also backed the proposal, saying it is a necessary precaution against weapons falling into the hands of children who may unintentionally fire the weapon at themselves or others.
Krekorian said the majority of shooting deaths of children that happen around the country “occur because a gun was not safely maintained in a home.”
He added that the ordinance would help reduce the number of stolen guns that might later be used in crimes, and reduce the number of suicides.
Krekorian said safe storage of guns is supported by the National Rifle Association.
“Even the NRA itself, any responsible gun owner advocacy organization, will say that even if you choose to keep a handgun in your home for self-defense, you should safely store that handgun. It’s the only responsible thing for a gun owner to do,” he said.
“So when we hear about imposition on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, no — what this ordinance does is it asks gun owners to act responsibly like the law-abiding people that they feel that they are,” he said.
City attorneys were instructed to write an ordinance that would require any gun stored at home to be kept in a locked container, disabled with a trigger lock, kept on a person or “within close enough proximity and control that the owner can readily retrieve and use the handgun as if carried on the person.”
The proposal hit a roadblock earlier this summer when the Los Angeles police officers’ union asked the Public Safety Committee to include amendments exempting reserve or retired law enforcement officials.
Krekorian balked at the suggested exemptions and pushed to get the issue out of committee so other council members could also weigh in on the issue.
During a Public Safety Committee meeting today prior to the full council vote, Councilman Mitch Englander said he supported the law and called it “reasonable,” but he expressed skepticism that such laws would have much effect on gun-related deaths of children.
“There is no amount of any possible legislation to pre-empt stupidity, negligence and criminal behavior, no matter what we do here today,” he said.
Chad Cheung, director of the CalGuns Shooting Sports Association, spoke against the issue in committee, saying there are “tons and tons of laws already on the books that require these types of safety measures in place,” including those that require guns to come with trigger locks.
“Adding one more that could potentially reduce somebody’s ability to defend themselves when somebody breaks into their homes is just unreasonable,” Cheung said. “You cannot legislate negligence, you only can educate it. If you want to help people, I suggest you provide free firearm education with every purchase.”
Proponents of safe storage laws have said that while guns are required to come with trigger locks, there is no requirement for those locks to be used or that guns be stored away in a locked container.