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Pasadena Prepares to Enforce Ammunition Law : Government: Police plan to closely monitor gun dealers following council's expected approval of controversial new sales ordinance.

March 02, 1995|RICHARD WINTON and RICK HOLGUIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Pasadena police officials are planning meetings with the owners of the city's three gun shops and about 50 licensed dealers, who apparently work out of their homes, to inform them about the requirements of a controversial new ordinance to regulate ammunition sales.

The law would take effect 30 days after it is given final City Council approval, which is expected Monday.

The city will give dealers registers to record the name, address and driver's license or state identification number of anyone buying ammunition in Pasadena, Police Chief Jerry Oliver said this week. The type, brand and amount of ammunition also must be recorded. Failure to do so will be a misdemeanor.

Vice officers will make spot checks of dealers--and stings--to monitor enforcement, Oliver said.

"I very much plan to send underage people to gun stores and to vendors to see the ordinance is being followed," Oliver said.

The police chief and other city officials said the proposal's greatest value is that it would prompt vendors to enforce the existing law banning sales to minors. Selling ammunition to a minor is a felony.

It will also be of some investigative value, he said.

"A name alone is not evidence in itself, but with other corroborating evidence, that name on the roster could be very important," said Oliver, who added that enforcement costs would be minimal and handled by existing staff.

While Pasadena has been hailed by gun-control advocates for backing what is expected to be the first such law in the nation, the Second Amendment Coalition, which successfully blocked a handgun ban in San Francisco, is preparing a legal challenge.

"The control of ammunition is the same thing as the control of firearms," said Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the coalition, a nonprofit legal defense fund on gun issues with 600,000 members. "Once the council takes its final action March 6, we'll sue."

But city leaders aren't backing down. "We're prepared to take on this country's gun lobby, which has thrown down the gauntlet," said Councilman Rick Cole, at a news conference Tuesday. "We have opinion from the state attorney general. It's legal."

The owners and managers of the three gun shops ridiculed the law as ineffectual, and said they already strictly abide by laws prohibiting the sale of ammunition to minors.

"If they look under 18, we don't let them in the store without ID, and we certainly don't sell them ammunition," said Oliver Pong, manager of Gun World of Pasadena.

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