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Criminal Justice

Supes Will Ban Large-Caliber Handguns in Unincorporated LA County

A single bullet
0.50 caliber Bullet case ammo for military sniper rifle. L.A. County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to draft an ordinance to ban the sale of .50 caliber handguns and ammunition in unincorporated areas of the county.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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More gun restrictions are coming to unincorporated Los Angeles County.

The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to draft an ordinance to ban the sale of .50 caliber handguns and ammunition in unincorporated areas of the county. 

“Those are the really big bullets that cause immense destruction and are very difficult to aim,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion.

Another ordinance would create buffer zones in unincorporated L.A. County between gun and ammo stores and "sensitive areas" such as schools, day care centers and parks. The Supreme Court has ruled that local governments can ban guns in "sensitive areas."

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“This is something that we cannot waste any more time putting on hold,” said motion co-author Supervisor Hilda Solis.

California state law already bans the sale and ownership of .50 caliber rifles, with a few small exceptions, but not .50 caliber handguns and ammunition.

The city of Los Angeles has banned .50 caliber rifles and handguns since 2003. 

Supervisors also voted to ban firearms on all L.A. County property and enact more regulations on guns and ammunition dealers, including restricting minors’ presence in the stores.

Hahn encouraged cities in the county to follow the board’s lead.

“We need to do whatever we can in our own jurisdictions to keep our communities safe from gun violence,” she said, adding that a gun buyback program she sponsored over the weekend collected over 215 weapons.

In June, the supervisors asked county counsel to report back on their options for additional local gun regulations.

Then the Supreme Court struck down New York’s concealed carry law that required gun owners to show a specific need to carry a firearm in public. That made it easier for more people to get a permit and put some California gun laws in jeopardy.

In June, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that, as a result of the ruling, he would operate on a “shall-issue standard” and anticipated granting around 50,000 concealed weapons permits in the county. As of late June, the department had issued more than 3,000 permits (it did not have updated numbers through September immediately available).

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But the high court ruling also opened the door for states and local governments to further regulate what kinds of guns and ammunition people can buy and where they can have them.

California state lawmakers spent months fine-tuning Senate Bill 918, which would have strengthened the state’s concealed carry law in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state attorney general Rob Bonta supported the legislation.

But that bill died in the Assembly earlier this month. It’s possible it could re-appear in next year’s legislative session.

What questions do you have about criminal justice in Southern California? 
Emily Elena Dugdale covers smaller police departments around Southern California, school safety officers, jails and prisons, and juvenile justice issues. She also covers the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

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