Los Angeles lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday to put new restrictions on how handguns are kept in the home in an effort to reduce injuries, accidental fatalities and young suicides by removing the possibility of a gun falling into the wrong hands.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian revealed that more preschoolers are killed by guns than police officers, The Los Angeles Times reports. “It’s unacceptable to live in a country where it’s more dangerous to be a preschooler than to be a police officer–and we can do something about that today,” Krekorian said.
The new law will require L.A. gun owners to disable their guns with trigger locks or store them in a locked container, The Wall Street Journal reports. This is similar to the ordinances in place in New York City and San Francisco and a statewide law in Massachusetts.
The new restrictions would not apply to L.A. gun owners if a lawful user is carrying the handgun or if the gun is within “close enough proximity and control” so the owner can grab it and use it. If someone violates the new law, he or she will receive a misdemeanor, which is punishable up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
It is unclear what this means for specific situations, but the question of whether someone was in control would be determined “case by case,” a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, Rob Wilcox, said.
Many are wondering if people will even comply with the law since it would be hard to enforce. Krekorian explained that police won’t be knocking on doors to see whose gun is locked away, but police could discover violations when responding to calls or to a shooting.
Law enforcement groups pushed to get off-duty or retired police officers exempt from the rule, but the officers were excluded from Tuesday’s approved final draft.
The mayor plans to sign the law, LA Times reports, and it would go into effect 30 days after he does it.
So what do people think? Gun-rights supporters argue that the law just undermines the fact that people keep guns in their homes for protection. “These types of ordinances can make it impossible to [effectively use a gun] when seconds count, and a life is at stake,” C.D. Michel, a gun-rights lawyer in Long Beach, Calif., said.
Those in support of gun-storage laws say they would help lower the number of accidents involving kids. Allison Anderman, a lawyer with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, said that “the majority of gun-owners are law-abiding and want to comply with laws like these.”