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THE REGION : Azusa, Other Cities May Copy Pasadena's Ammunition Law

March 16, 1995|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

City leaders in Azusa are considering a copycat ordinance to the new law in Pasadena that regulates sales of ammunition.

The Pasadena City Council approved its ammunition ordinance on March 6, requiring purchasers of handgun ammunition to provide identification showing proof of age and to complete a registration form indicating the type, brand and amount of ammunition purchased.

"I think it's a reasoned approach to curtailing some of the violence," said Azusa Mayor Stephen J. Alexander. "It doesn't stop anyone hunting, but it will stop criminal activity with these bullets. I think it will be supported 5 to 0 by the council."

Alexander said that the council will consider adopting a similar ordinance next month and that he would like to see it go even further than Pasadena's.

"I would like to see background checks on those purchasing ammo because maybe since they bought their gun they've gotten a criminal record," he said.

The proposal to adopt a Pasadena-style law is being touted by Azusa Police Chief Byron C. Nelson, president of the San Gabriel Valley Police Chiefs Assn. He spoke in support of the law at a Pasadena council debate recently and said he is promoting it to the other 22 law enforcement agencies in his organization.

"We're trying to take a stand on the issue of violence," Councilwoman Diane Beebe said. "I would expect the council to adopt some sort of requirement supporting the chief's position."

Workers in the city's five gun shops echo the complaints of Pasadena ammunition vendors: that the ordinance would do nothing to solve crimes.

"It's a waste of time," said Teresa Campos of J & S Gun shop. "How are you going to track down the ammunition? There are no serial numbers."

But proponents say it will prompt ammunition vendors to enforce the existing state law banning sales to minors because there will be records of sales and those records will help police investigate gun-related crimes.

In South Pasadena, Police Chief Thomas Mahoney said he knows of no ammunition sellers in that city, but if he discovers any, he said he would get a copy of Pasadena's ordinance and present it to the council.

"Any effort to keep guns or ammunition out of people's hands who are committing illegal acts is fine with me," he said.

Gun control advocates are hoping for a domino effect across the nation, especially if Los Angeles approves such a measure.

Officials in several other valley cities said they will wait to see whether Pasadena's experiment affects gun-related crime and survives an expected court challenge.

"I'll wait to see what happens in Pasadena before making any recommendation," Arcadia Police Chief Ronnie Garner said.

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