Friday, February 22, 2013
The Los Angeles City Council is poised to step into the gun control debate as members prepare to consider a proposed ban of magazine clips used in high-capacity weapons approved today by the council's Public Safety Committee.
A survivor of a shooting in 1999 at the West Valley Jewish Community Center and a mother whose son died in a shooting involving a high-capacity assault weapon testified today before the committee, which voted unanimously to send the motion to the City Council.
"I was the same age as the kids at Sandy Hook and I was one of the lucky ones who survived," said Josh Stepakoff, who was 6 when he and four others were injured after a gunman fired a high-capacity weapon into the West Valley Jewish Community Center.
"It's a very difficult topic that people don't want to talk about," said the 20-year-old Stepakoff, who sits on the board of Women Against Gun Violence. "I'm glad that we're here having this discussion."
While it is illegal in California to manufacture, sell and transfer high-capacity ammunition magazines, the ownership of such magazines is permitted. The motion, introduced by Councilman Paul Krekorian, proposes to ban such possession.
City attorneys are set to draw up language for the ordinance and present it to council in 10 days.
Krekorian said at today's committee hearing that a commonality in shootings ranging from the 1997 North Hollywood shootout between bank robbers and LAPD officers to the recent elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., is the "high degree to which a person with evil motivation has been able to make a crime significantly worse because of higher fire power."
The motion drew support from city attorney candidate and former state assembly member Mike Feuer, as well as local gun-control advocates.
"This is the next logical step in the evolution of our gun violence legislation here in the city of Los Angeles," said Feuer, who authored a 1997 city ban on the sale and transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines while serving on the Los Angeles City Council. "There is no civilian who needs a high-capacity magazine ... for any purpose."
Feuer is looking to unseat current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in the upcoming March 5 election. He said gun control ordinances passed in Los Angeles served as the catalysts for statewide measures.
A representative for gun owner and gun industry groups threatened to sue the city if the ban goes through.
David Duringer, an attorney for pro-gun groups Calguns Foundation and Cal FFL, threatened to sue Los Angeles all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, if the ban is approved.
"People have a fundamental right to bear firearms for self defense, including ... magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds," Duringer said. "Any outright ban on the possession of magazines is a violation of the Second Amendment."
Officials in the city attorney's office seemed unperturbed by the threat.
"Bring it on," Trutanich's Communications Director Sandy Cooney said. "We completely support what the councilman (Paul Krekorian) wants to do."