L.A. Reverses Ban On Sales Of 'Ultracompact' Guns

la_gun_range.jpg Inside the L.A. Gun Club. (Photo by current events via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

L.A. City Council voted 12-0 on Tuesday to reverse a ban on the sale of so-called "ultracompact" guns. The vote was made amid growing outcry from gun rights groups, including the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, who say that state laws on gun restrictions pre-empt the local ordinance, and have threatened the city with legal action, reports the L.A. Times.

Under the city law, which was passed in 2001, firearm dealers were barred from selling guns that were less than 6.75 inches in length or less than 4.5 inches in height, according to CBS2. The ordinance also prohibited the sale of holsters meant to hold the smaller guns.

The law was passed under a motion that was authored by then-City Councilman (and current City Attorney) Mike Feuer. He and other gun control advocates argued that ultracompact guns were too easily concealable for criminals, thus making them a public safety threat. According to the Times, the Violence Policy Center, an organization that works to prevent gun violence, warned that the “pocket rockets” raised the risk that lawful gun owners owners could misuse them in “moments of anger, depression, or other emotional instability.” Gun rights proponents have countered this argument by saying the ban puts women and disabled gun owners at a disadvantage, as they may require a more concealable firearm.

State law governs which kinds of guns can be sold. According to the Times, fewer than 800 handgun models can be sold under the current California guidelines. Chuck Michel, an attorney for the California Rifle & Pistol Association, told the Times that a "few" of those ultracompact guns are permissible under California law.

"I expect that state law—prohibiting a wide range of unsafe handguns—will protect Angelenos," Feuer, who is now the L.A. City Attorney, said in a statement as response to Tuesday's vote. Rob Wilcox, a spokesperson for Feuer's office, said that no one has ever been prosecuted under the 2001 city restriction.