Some of about 125 weapons confiscated in a gang takedown are displayed at a press conference on May 21, 2009 in the Los Angeles-area community of Lakewood, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
In the wake of a devastating mass shooting in Monterey Park last month in which 11 people were killed during a Lunar New Year celebration, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to evaluate and discuss new gun control measures in hopes of curbing gun violence in the county.
Several motions are expected to be presented at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, with proposals both ambitious and small in scale.
Countywide gun owner registry
Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Hilda Solis have proposed a motion that would direct the County’s legal counsel to study the feasibility and legality of implementing a countywide gun registry.
The registry would be created in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and would use existing data and records to create a database that is “easily accessible for law enforcement first responders.”
Horvath and Solis say that the current system for gun tracing is a slow and tedious process and a countywide registry would make it easier for law enforcement officers to track down criminals.
“Having access to a database that lists the firearm(s) registered to a certain address would allow first responders to better assess the situation and adjust their approach accordingly when responding to a call for service at an address with a licensed firearm,” the motion reads.
Even if the Board of Supervisors agrees to move forward with the proposal, a countywide registry would not be immediately implemented and it would likely face many legal challenges. Federal law currently prohibits the Federal Government from having its own nationwide gun owner registry, the motion says.
Additionally, the motion directs Los Angeles County to look into the possibility of requiring gun owners in the county to carry some form of liability insurance for their firearms.
The hope, according to the motion language, is that the insurance requirement will encourage firearm owners to “take safety classes, use gun safes, install trigger locks, or utilize chamber-load indicators.”
The idea of liability insurance requirement is a popular suggestion among gun control advocates, and the Supervisors’ proposal says there is some data to support its effectiveness.
The County’s Counsel would be required to report the findings of both the registry and insurance items within 90 days of the motion’s passage — if it passes.
Warning signs and secure storage
While those two proposals are quite ambitious and abstract at the current juncture, there are two additional items that appear likely to move forward with some immediacy.
If passed, the County would require new signage that warns of the dangers of firearms to be displayed at businesses where guns are sold.
Additionally, a requirement could be instituted that would require firearms at a gun owner’s home be securely stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock.
Citing a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the proposals states that households with locked firearms and ammunition saw a vast decrease in self-inflicted firearms injuries and a much lower risk of unintentional firearms injuries among children.
Currently, California law requires firearm owners to keep guns safely secured and requires trigger locks be sold simultaneously with firearms sales. But, the motion argues, the State does not clearly define what counts as “safe storage” and the requirement only exists for home in which children live or regularly visit.
“The County has the ability to build upon state law with specific requirements for safe gun storage which could prevent the unintentional deaths of children and teen suicides by as much as 85% depending on the type of storage and could also prevent guns from being easily stolen in the case of a home invasion,” the motion reads.
Consumers can buy gun storage devices that are approved by the United States Department of Justice for as little as $40 and trigger locks can often be obtained for free from police and sheriff’s stations.
Assault weapons ban
Another motion authored by Solis and Supervisor Janice Hahn urges the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to publicly support efforts by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to reinstate the nation’s expired ban on the sale and manufacture of assault weapons.
.50 caliber ammo ban and County property restrictions
And a third motion, also authored by Solis and Hahn, aims to ban the sale of .50 caliber firearms and ammunition in Los Angeles County and restrict the carrying of firearms on County property.
County property includes beaches, playgrounds, plazas and County department buildings, the motion reads.
Both ordinances have been researched and are ready for immediate introduction, Hahn and Solis say.
That motion also includes language to evaluate L.A. County’s zoning regulations. If passed, the County will begin researching the legality of implementing zoning restrictions on firearms dealers, including establishing a safe “buffer zone” to keep those businesses a yet-to-be determined distance from schools, parks and daycares, among other “sensitive areas.”
It will also call for stricter requirements for ammunition and firearms dealers to become licensed locally.
The L.A. County Department of Regional Planning and Treasurer and Tax Collector would be tasked with finalizing those two ordinances and would be asked to submit the findings to the Board for approval “as soon as possible.”
“Too many people have lost loved ones to gun violence in Los Angeles County. We must be united in our fight against gun violence and enhancing local regulations is an important part of the fight,” Solis and Hahn wrote in that motion.
It’s unclear at this time which, if any, motions will survive past Tuesday’s Supes meeting, but the Board currently carries a 4 to 1 Democrat majority and the lone Republican, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, has at times shown a propensity to support increased gun control measures during her terms as Supervisor.