Just 17 days after a gunman slaughtered 11 people at a Monterey Park dance venue, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday on new laws to regulate sales and possession of guns in unincorporated areas.
“We know that blame for the gun violence epidemic lies with the failure of congressional leaders to pass even the most basic federal gun laws,” board Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement following the vote. “Because they have not acted, we have found actions we can take at the county level to protect lives.”
The motions that went before the board Tuesday were brought by Hahn and Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath.
Hahn recalled that when she was a congresswoman, the Republican House majority refused to consider such laws even in the face of repeated mass slayings.
“But now we have found actions we can take at the county level to save lives,” she said.
The first of the measures forbids the sale of .50-caliber handguns and ammunition. Hahn noted that such weaponry is intended for combat use.
They are for “tearing apart human flesh. They have no use among civilians,” Hahn said.
Another ordinance approved by the board Tuesday bans, with the exception of law-enforcement officers and military personnel, the carrying of guns at county facilities such as ball fields and parks.
The board on Tuesday also called for the development of an ordinance that would require a 1,000-foot buffer zone between gun stores and “child-sensitive areas” such as schools. It also called for an ordinance that would require gun vendors to keep a ledger of local gun sales along with fingerprints of purchasers and that all privately owned firearms be kept under lock and key.
An attorney for the county advised the board there were some doubts about the feasibility of the lock-and-key requirement, noting recent federal court rulings relating to firearms. Hahn asked for further research on the matter.
But the board also called for development of other restrictions relating to gun sales, such as requiring stores to display warning signs about the risks of having firearms in the home, including “unintentional deaths” of children. Another would require gun owners to carry liability insurance.
Steven Lamb, an Altadena gun owner, blasted the measures, saying they water down the primary purpose of owning a gun, “which is to protect you.” Lamb said forcing of the lockup of guns “would interfere with the guns’ intended purpose of self defense.”
The board also voted to support the bid by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, to reestablish the expired 10-year national assault rifle ban and to forbid the sale of such firearms and high capacity magazines to those under 21.
Lamb also criticized that vote.
“This unfairly creates two classes of citizens — those entitled to own guns and those who cannot, based on age,” he said. “Suppose Freedom of the Press only applied to different age levels.”
Sam Paredes, executive director of the California Gunowners’ Association, said he was skeptical the Feinstein measure would pass.
“Ms. Feinstein has been in the Senate for a long time,” he said. “She keeps resubmitting the same measure every session. I don’t think it will pass the Senate. It certainly won’t make it through the House.”
The board also directed its lobbyists in Sacramento to support proposed state legislation that would tighten rules for carrying concealed weapons and require firearms dealers to undergo annual training.
One of the motions that went before the board Tuesday argued that firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States. It also noted the Jan. 21 slaying of 11 people in a shooting at a Monterey Park dance studio, the deadliest mass shooting in county history.
“I intend to do whatever is possible to protect Los Angeles County residents, particularly following the tragedy in the First District community of Monterey Park,” Solis said in a statement after the vote. “Gun-related violence will continue to cause mass damage, trauma, and harm if we do not take the necessary steps at all levels of government. This includes supporting key gun safety legislation like Senator Feinstein’s recent action to reinstate the assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban. Today, living in the United States of America means being at risk of becoming a victim of a mass shooting. To that end, time is of the essence.”