Crime & Justice

Los Angeles City Council bans high-capacity gun magazines

A 30 round magazine, left, and a 10 round magazine, right, rest below an AR-15 rifle at the Ammunition Storage Component company in New Britain, Conn., in this April 10, 2013 file photo. The city council voted 12–0 on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, to make it a misdemeanor to possess gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
A 30 round magazine, left, and a 10 round magazine, right, rest below an AR-15 rifle at the Ammunition Storage Component company in New Britain, Conn., in this April 10, 2013 file photo. The city council voted 12–0 on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, to make it a misdemeanor to possess gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Charles Krupa/AP

Against the backdrop of a national gun control debate fueled by a series of mass shootings across the United States, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 on Tuesday to ban high-capacity magazines.

The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to possess gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Such magazines were used by gunmen in numerous mass shootings, including the 1997 bank robbery that turned into a running shootout with police in the streets of North Hollywood, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the movie theater shooting in Colorado, among many others.

Councilman Paul Krekorian pushed for the ban aimed at addressing a loophole in a California state law that prohibits the sale, manufacture and importing — but not the possession — of such magazines.

“It’s important that this council act today to prohibit the possession of large-capacity magazines, which our state legislature said 15 years ago were so dangerous that we shouldn’t be able to sell, manufacture or import them,” Krekorian said. “Once and for all, after 15 years, let’s close this loophole.”

The ordinance was modeled after similar rules in San Francisco and Sunnyvale, both of which have withstood Second Amendment challenges in court, according to the city.

The measure will come back before the council next week for a second vote on an amendment that exempts retired police officers who hold a valid, concealed carry weapons permit. The motion for an amendment passed on an 8-4 vote.

In public comments, several people who had been victims of gun violence spoke out in support of the ordinance.

One of those speakers was Joshua Stepakoff, who was 6 years old when on Aug. 10, 1999, a man armed with an Uzi-like submachine gun shot up the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills. Stepakoff was one of five people wounded.

“I’m sure a lot of the law officers here today will remember that day,” Stepakoff said. “It is a historic day in Los Angeles history and I’m here to support Councilmember Krekorian on banning high-capacity magazines. There should not be any exemptions for anybody, because I may have the opportunity to live today because I was lucky, but some others do not.”

At least two speakers voiced their opposition to the measure, as well. One speaker argued that targeting any particular weapon avoided addressing whatever larger social issues were driving people to kill, citing a lack of economic opportunities and being raised in communities where they are exposed to violence early.

"You can only minimize the violence," the speaker said, "but you’re not going to do it by some sort of attack on some material thing, because if that was true, then my friend who’s in the hospital because of some hit-and-run — that is, a car hit him, ran away, and he’s in the hospital right now — you don’t see me banning cars."

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement supporting the ban.

"As national and state leaders struggle with a way to move forward with much needed gun laws, I applaud our City leaders for taking decisive action today that will help us save lives and prevent crime," Garcetti said in the statement. He added that he was eager to sign it into law.

Ordinance on Document Cloud

Correction: An earlier version of this story used the wrong term when referring to a gun's feeding device. It is a "magazine." KPCC regrets the error.

This story has been updated.