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L.A. bans possession of large gun magazines

NRA has threatened lawsuit over rule

Ruett Foster holds a picture of his sons who were shot in 1997 by an assailant with an automatic weapon.
Ruett Foster holds a picture of his sons who were shot in 1997 by an assailant with an automatic weapon.
Emily Alpert Reyes Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Defying the warnings of gun rights groups, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the possession of firearm magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Backers of the plan said it would help minimize the bloodshed of mass shootings by forcing attackers to interrupt their rampages to stop and reload.

Juliet Leftwich, legal director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, called such magazines “the common thread” in almost all of the mass shootings that have devastated the country, from Newtown to Virginia Tech to Columbine.

Even as city officials celebrated the newly passed restrictions, gun control activists were dismayed to hear about a proposal to exempt some retired police officers from the rules – an eleventh-hour change now being sought by the union that represents Los Angeles police.

California law already generally bans the manufacturing of such large-capacity magazines, offering them up for sale or bringing them into the state. But state law does not prohibit people from possessing them – something that Councilman Paul Krekorian and others called a loophole that jeopardizes public safety.

“People who want to defend their families don’t need a 100-round drum magazine and an automatic weapon to do it,” said Krekorian, who championed the ban at a rally Tuesday outside City Hall. But if someone wanted to do harm, Krekorian added, “imagine what a gunman on this sidewalk could do with that kind of firepower with a crowd like this.”

Los Angeles lawmakers first sought to draft such rules more than two years ago. Survivors of gun violence lamented that it had taken so long for the council to press forward with the ban.

Rhonda Foster, whose 7-year-old son, Evan, was killed and younger son, Alec, injured when a gunman sprayed their car with more than a dozen bullets, said the ban would save lives.

“This is a no-brainer,” her husband, Ruett Foster, told the crowd, holding a picture of his sons.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have threatened to sue over the new Los Angeles rules, arguing that they violate the Second Amendment and are pre-empted by California law.

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