Gun owners in Los Angeles would be required to store their firearms in locked containers, or apply the trigger locks when not using them, under an ordinance proposed by a half-dozen City Council members on Friday.
San Francisco adopted a similar law in 2007, and the motion authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian would instruct the City Attorney to write a law modeled after it.
Councilmen Bernard Parks, Gil Cedillo, Bob Blumenfield, Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell seconded the motion, to be heard first by the Public Safety Committee.
Proponents of the motion say a loophole exists in which the state requires that guns come with safety locks, but there is no requirement to actually use the locks while the weapons are not in use, or to store them in locked containers.
The ordinance would be aimed at making sure guns do not “fall into the hands of a child or someone who is considering suicide, or somebody else who will be the next tragedy if that gun is not properly stored and properly locked,” Krekorian said.
The motion comes less than a month after City Attorney Mike Feuer pressed charges against a mother whose 17-year-old son brought a loaded handgun to Will Rogers High School in Van Nuys.
Feuer charged Leah Wilcken, 41, with allowing her child to take a firearm off-premises and allowing him to take the gun to school, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child endangerment.
During the investigation, Wilcken refused to help officers determine if her son had brought one of her guns with him to school, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
LAPD officers searched Wilcken’s home the next day and found a shotgun and four more handguns that were not locked up nor properly stored, officials said. One of the weapons was in a kitchen cabinet under the sink, authorities said.
The council also declared today TALK Day in the City of Los Angeles, in honor of Women Against Gun Violence’s TALK project that urges people to remind friends, family and acquaintances about the importance of safely storing away firearms.
“It grew out of our desire to create a program that parents can take on, and make a real difference and save kids lives. It didn’t require a law. It just requires parents being educated on the realities of gun violence,” said Laurie Saffian of Women Against Gun Violence.
“Parents always ask, ‘Is your pool secured, is your pet safe?’ But they don’t ask the simple question, ‘If you have a gun in your home, is it safely stored? Is it locked up, unloaded and the ammunition stored separately from the gun?’ ” Saffian said. “We are encouraging parents to start asking those kinds of questions to keep our kids safe.”
Hollye Dexter, also with Women Against Gun Violence, said her brother was shot in the head at the age of seven by a neighbor who was playing with his father’s rifle.
“My brother did survive the injury, but with traumatic injury, which impacted his life, our family’s life and our community for decades,” Dexter said. “It never occurred to us our neighbor had a rifle in the house — we’ve known these people for years. But you have a chance to do it differently. You can ask.”
— City News Service