This post was updated Oct. 3 at 12:16 a.m.
Los Angeles residents may be prevented from possessing assault weapons if a motion by a local city council member passes.
Paul Koretz represents Los Angeles City Council District 5, which includes Westwood and UCLA. Koretz introduced a motion Aug. 7 to the city council that, if enacted, would prohibit the possession of all assault weapons in Los Angeles without exception.
California state law prohibits possession of certain assault rifles, but there are some exceptions. The ordinance proposed by Koretz would be stricter than that law.
Koretz said although he has opposed legal possession of assault weapons for about 30 years, he decided to propose this motion now because of the frequency of recent mass shootings.
“It’s more obvious that we should not be selling them, but there is also no reason for anyone to possess them,” Koretz said. “So in Los Angeles I wanted to take this to the next step and prevail the legal system to ban the possession of them in LA.”
There has never been a mass shooting at UCLA, but Koretz said the on-campus murder-suicide in 2016 and the targeting of other schools by mass shooters informed his thinking in proposing such a ban.
“UCLA is certainly a very visible campus, and we did have something happen at UCLA (in 2016) and I was there with everybody else trying to figure out what to do,” Koretz said. “So that was not a danger to students and other faculties, but it was terrifying and was something that made us think twice about what else we should be doing to prevent these.”
Current state law prohibits the sale of many military style rifles, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler said. However, this proposed ordinance would go further, prohibiting the possession of all assault weapons.
Winkler added he does not think the ordinance would directly affect the UCLA community.
“Unfortunately all UCLA students worry about a mass shooting since we have a history of mass shootings in educational institutions, but bigger actions are always needed for an effective and more direct change,” Winkler said.
Winkler added although he thinks the ordinance is likely to be passed, he does not expect it will have a significant short-term effect. He said he thinks gun owners will simply evade the law rather than turn in their assault rifles.
“It is very difficult for a city (such as) Los Angeles to enact effective (bans) limiting mass shootings because you can just go out further than the city and do the same things that the city prohibits,” Winkler said.
The motion is currently with the Committee of Public Safety but is likely to face several challenges.
Koretz said it will likely take more than a year for the motion to reach Mayor Eric Garcetti’s desk. There will surely be legal concerns for the city when writing the ordinance and challenges to defend against if it passes, he added.
Winkler said this law could affect gun regulations in other states and cities, as Los Angeles has historically been at the forefront of gun control and gun safety regulation.
“When Los Angeles banned the possession of high-capacity magazines, it was followed by the state ban thereafter,” Winkler said. “So LA is often a leader in gun safety reforms.”
Margot Bennett, executive director of Women Against Gun Violence, said her organization would be in favor of an assault weapon ban. The California-based organization was founded in 1993 and has worked to advance gun control and gun safety regulation.
“We did email Councilmember Koretz’s staff, and we will support it by getting our constituents to speak for it and will do whatever we can to make sure that this ordinance passes,” Bennett said.
Although WAGV supports banning the possession of assault weapons, Bennett said the city should prepare a buyback program in order to avoid property concerns.
“I can see how that might be problematic and they might be sued for that because they would have to do an enforced buyback so there would not be a taking of property,” Bennett said. “But hey, we would absolutely support something like that.”