A City Council committee directed its attorneys today to further revise a proposed ordinance that would ban large-capacity ammunition clips in Los Angeles to ensure the law will withstand legal challenges and to provide exceptions for gun hobbyists.
Two members of the council’s Public Safety Committee voiced strong support for the proposal, saying such a ban is needed to help prevent deaths in the street and the “bloodshed of children.”
Councilman Mike Bonin said gun violence has created an “epidemic of death and gun violence in this country” and he wants to do anything he can to prevent shootings. Bonin told his fellow committee members that he has received “a lot of emails opposing” the proposed law, but “I’m absolutely unmoved.”
Bonin said shootings have become so commonplace that they are no longer top stories in the news.
“This is about preventing murder in our neighborhoods and preventing death in the streets and preventing the bloodshed of children,” he said, pointing to the use of high-capacity magazines in the killings of five people at or near Santa Monica College last July and the killing of a Porter Ranch TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport last November.
The sale and transfer of high-capacity clips is a crime in California, but people can still legally own them.
According to the city’s draft ordinance, more than half of mass-shooting incidents within the past three decades involved large-capacity magazines, including the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting massacre in December 2012, in which a gunman wielding a high-capacity assault weapon killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Councilman Mitch Englander, who heads the committee, agreed with Bonin, saying his family experienced gun violence resulting in murder.
But attorney Michael Hanna rejected the councilmen’s arguments, calling them “extremely insulting” to law-abiding citizens who may own high-capacity magazines. Noting that the ordinance would be a misdemeanor, Hanna told the panel it’s absurd to think the city can prevent a mass shooting with a misdemeanor, illustrating his points with an unloaded magazine.
After testifying, Hanna told a reporter that the proposed ban is the “stupidest idea I’ve heard.”
If the proposed ban becomes law, Los Angeles would be following two Northern California cities that enacted bans on possessing large-capacity ammunition clips.
An initial version of the proposed Los Angeles ban was revised by the City Attorney’s Office in an effort to mirror large-capacity magazine bans in San Francisco and Sunnyvale that have stood up to Second Amendment court challenges, Deputy City Attorney Brian Sottile said. The Sunnyvale case is being appealed.
The revised Los Angeles proposal would make possessing large-capacity magazines a misdemeanor one year after the ordinance’s adoption and give owners of the clips 60 days to surrender them, with several exceptions for law enforcement, museum collections and for magazines that hold 10 or less rounds of ammunition for firearms purchased before Jan. 1, 2000.
Critics of the Northern California bans have argued that millions of Americans legally own guns with high-capacity magazines and may need them at times for self-defense.