Our country is beset by gun violence. Since 1970, there have been more Americans killed by private guns than the total number of all Americans killed since the Revolutionary War. Something has to be done, and I'm proud to say that in Los Angeles we are doing everything we can to stop this epidemic from taking more innocent lives.
On Oct. 27, the City Council voted unanimously to approve my ordinance requiring all LA handgun owners and authorized users to keep their weapons locked or within their reach when at home. Read the ordinance here. LA's policy goes further than California state law, which requires that locks be sold with handguns, but doesn't compel people to use them.
This law will reduce the possibility of accidental shootings, prevent access to guns for suicide and thwart thieves from stealing guns and using them on the street. Los Angeles is now the largest city on the West Coast to pass a safe storage requirement, cementing our city as the nation's leading voice in the fight to keep children and families safe from gun violence.
You might wonder, why do we need a law like this? Isn't safely storing a gun at home just common sense?
It absolutely is. Even the NRA urges gun owners to lock up their guns at home. But just urging isn't enough. Requiring safe storage is necessary when you survey the tragedies that happen in our country on nearly a daily basis.
Each year in the United States, there are thousands of unintentional deaths and injuries because of handgun accidents. If you watch the TV news or do a quick Internet search, you can find tragedy after tragedy in which people are injured or killed because of unsafely stored handguns. Approximately two million children live in homes where guns are kept unlocked and loaded, and 73 percent of those children know where the firearms are kept.
According to the Washington Post, 43 toddlers have inadvertently shot either themselves or another person this year so far. Most of these shootings happen at home. Just weeks ago in New Mexico, a three-year-old shot his pregnant mother and his father after looking for an iPad in his mother's purse and finding a loaded 9mm handgun instead. In Texas, a three-year-old killed himself with his grandfather's gun, which he found in a bedroom where he had napped. Unfathomable events like this are happening far too often across the country. I want to make sure they don't happen to anyone in Los Angeles.
How will safe storage be enforced? This law targets those who store their firearms irresponsibly. Responsible gun owners should already be locking up their guns, and I know many people do. There will not be roving police patrols to check compliance with our safe storage requirement. It will most often be used in situations where law enforcement officers enter a home for another reason - possibly on a domestic violence or child endangerment call - and see an unlocked, loaded handgun on the kitchen table or on a nightstand. When that happens, they will have another tool to hold the owner responsible and prevent a household tragedy.
This law, much like my law outlawing the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, is a step toward curbing gun violence. I am confident that by taking this action we are saving lives and I hope you will help me spread the word to everyone you know: be safe, be smart and lock it up Los Angeles.
Visit safefirearmsstorage.org to find out more about how to store guns properly.