NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

L.A. Considers Gun Restrictions

January 18, 1999

The Los Angeles City Council is considering restricting handgun sales. L.A. officials are also debating whether to join the growing movement among cities to sue gun manufacturers for contributing to handgun violence.

The proposed city ordinance would prohibit individuals buying more than one handgun a month in Los Angles, which has 87 registered gun dealers. The intent is to reduce the flow of handguns to criminals through "straw purchasers" who legally buy several weapons for resale on the street.

  • Supporters say Los Angles had 27,000 incidents of gun violence in 1996.
  • The incidents cost the city an estimated $35 million in police and firefighter time.
  • California's new Attorney General, Bill Lockyear, has agreed to help enforce the one-gun-per-month limit by giving dealers in the city access to a state database that would show whether a customer had bought a gun anywhere in the state in the previous 30 days.

The ordinance is based on some research suggesting a link between the legitimate retail gun market and secondary black markets where criminals obtain guns. A study conducted for the L.A. Police Department found that more than half the handguns recovered by police had been sold by a legitimate retailer within the previous two years, and that only 10 percent to 15 percent of the recovered guns had been stolen.

Local limits on sales are likely to have little affect, say experts, because gun buyers can simply go elsewhere.

Source: "Los Angeles Weighs Gun Sales Limit and a Possible Suit Against Manufacturers," New York Times, January 18, 1999.

 

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