L.A. County to support ban on assault weapons
City News Service | 1/9/2013, 5 p.m.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to support the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons.
A 1994 ban on certain automatic firearms expired 10 years later and attempts to renew it have failed. But some legislators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have pledged to pass a new ban in light of the shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., last month.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky recommended that the board throw its weight behind Feinstein's bill, which she has promised to bring to the Senate on Jan. 22, the first day new legislation will be heard.
Since the bill is not yet available for review, the board agreed to support it only to the extent that it reinstates the previous ban.
The board joined several city leaders calling for re-authorization of the gun control legislation, including Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel. City Councilman Paul Koretz has said he will introduce a City Council resolution in support.
The board also voted to send letters to the mayors of all 88 cities in Los Angeles County, asking them to have their councils consider supporting Feinstein's bill. Supervisor Michael Antonovich was the sole dissenting vote.
The measure was part of a broader public safety review recommended by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and also approved by the board.
"We don't need to look across the country for examples of the devastating consequences of gun violence," Ridley-Thomas said of the many times he's met to comfort the families of those killed in local shootings.
The board voted unanimously to establish a task force of law enforcement, public health and mental health officials and charge that group with developing a comprehensive plan for curbing gun violence locally. The group will be asked to consider enhanced enforcement of gun control laws, as well as efforts to erase the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health problems.
The county will also survey public school districts to ensure compliance with mandated safety plans and conduct a safety assessment of county facilities and protocols in the event of an armed attack.
"It is not just a question about laws, but it is a question about our own set of values," Ridley-Thomas said. "We must recommit ourselves to the principle of nonviolence."