Amid a national focus on gun safety after several high-profile shooting incidents this year, Los Angeles has decided to take an extra precaution when it comes to protecting children from guns. The LA City Council voted Tuesday to require handguns to be stored in locked containers or disabled with a trigger lock as a safeguard against children accidentally harming themselves or others with firearms.
"It's unacceptable to live in a country where it's more dangerous to be a preschooler than to be a police officer," Councilman Paul Krekorian, who authored the measure, said, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Krekorian’s assessment comes from a New York Times op-ed that said 82 children younger than 4 years old were fatally shot in 2013, while 27 police officers were killed on duty that year. The councilman said the new law asks gun owners to “exercise the basic, common-sense safety storage measures that even the National Rifle Association recommends.”
However, he told reporters after the unanimous vote that some gun owners told him they opposed the law because they want to be able to keep firearms under their pillows. The law does allow weapons to be carried by their owner or by any authorized person over age 18, or within close enough proximity that the authorized person can have control over the gun. These provisions were put in place to account for situations such as cleaning the gun or a police officer carrying guns around a house, according to city officials.
While the City Council voted unanimously to approve the final law, the Public Safety Committee initially resisted it because the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union for Los Angeles Police Department officers, wanted reserve and retired officers to be exempt. After the City Council added the allowances, however, the union dropped its request.
Los Angeles is not planning to implement new procedures to proactively enforce the law, Krekorian told NBC Los Angeles. But the law could come into play when police respond to domestic violence calls, during county check ups on foster children or other situations.
Cities and states around the country have been revisiting gun laws in recent months after numerous mass shootings have pushed the topic of gun violence to the top of national news. Eleven states already have safe storage or gun lock requirements, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy analysis nonprofit. But gun laws are often decided on a local level as well.
The Los Angeles storage law comes after the city adopted a ban this summer on processing ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. That law, which goes into effect next month, is already being challenged by a lawsuit from two law enforcement groups, county sheriffs and a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association. If LA Mayor Eric Garcetti signs this new law, it would go into effect 30 days later.