LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles lawmakers on Friday began exploring whether the city can ban the carrying of exposed handguns in public places — a proposal that quickly drew fire from gun-rights advocates.
A motion by City Council President Eric Garcetti, seconded by six of his colleagues, directed the City Attorney’s Office to look into the legality of prohibiting “open carry” firearms within Los Angeles city limits.
California law permits the carrying of legally owned unloaded handguns in a holster. Ammunition may be carried separately on the holster, allowing a gun to be loaded in an instant, according to Garcetti’s office.
“Recent incidents in Los Angeles and Tucson remind us all of the ìdevastating impact that gun violence has on families and communities,” Garcetti said. “The open carry of a handgun can be intimidating and threaten public safety.”
Garcetti noted there have been three shootings in or near local schools this week. A Gardena High School student’s gun discharged in a classroom on Tuesday, injuring two students.
On Wednesday, a gunman wounded a school police officer near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, and a 15-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting near Bell High School.
“An open carry ban in the city would serve the greater good by limiting the public’s exposure to firearms and conserving already strained police officer resources,” Garcetti said.
Ann Reiss Lane, chair emeritus of Women Against Gun Violence, also called for the ban.
” I don’t wish to live in a country in which people carry guns to intimidate me,” she said. “There is no reason to carry an unloaded weapon other than intimidation.”
But Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said such a ban is “contrary to state law” and vowed to “challenge it every way we can.”
“In fact, there has never been a crime committed by an open carrier in California that’s been recorded, this has been a right that we’ve had since California became a state,” he said. “With budget cuts and police officers and sheriff’s deputies laid off or numbers reduced, people have only one ability to protect themselves and that is to do it themselves.”
Early last year, open carry advocates began gathering at Starbucks coffee shops in Northern California, after San Francisco-based Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Los Angeles-based California Pizza Kitchen adopted policies banning people from carrying firearms in their stores and restaurants.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, has introduced a bill seeking to ban open-carry weapons statewide.
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