The L.A. City Council is scheduled to vote today on a law that aims to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of children, all too often with devastating consequences. The measure would require handgun owners to store their firearms under lock and key, keep them in their possession, or disable the weapons so that they can’t be fired.
The proposal by Councilman Paul Krekorian has received broad support and already passed on a preliminary vote. Guns control activists say the law is needed to prevent deadly accidents involving children, as well as suicides by despondent teenagers.
Gun rights groups, though, have blasted the proposal. They say the city has no right to dictate how people protect themselves in their own homes. They say education and training is the best way to reduce accidental gun deaths.
It’s not clear how many accidental gun deaths occur each year. But a study by the Centers for Disease Control estimated that there were nearly 600 accidental deaths in 2011, with 102 victims under 18.
The storage law is one of two gun-related measures taken up in recent months by the council. This summer, the city adopted a ban on possessing ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. That law – which is due to go into effect next month – is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by gun rights groups and two law enforcement agencies.
Krekorian says L.A. needs to act because of a lack of federal and state regulations on gun storage. He calls the proposal common sense – and says he hopes it will build momentum for tougher gun laws around the country.
The United States leads the developed world in both gun ownership and gun deaths. In 2013, more than 33,000 people in the U.S. died from gunshots, making it one of the leading causes of death in the country.