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THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT

Politicians Say State Should Allow Stronger Local Gun Control

Reaction: Hayden, Scott, Hertzberg support legislation they believe would make city streets safer.

March 01, 1997|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

State and local officials, stunned by Friday's terrorist-like shootout in North Hollywood, vowed to change state law to give cities the power to enact stronger gun-control laws.

"This shootout reiterates the problem that the city of Los Angeles is preempted by state law from enacting tough gun-control ordinances," said mayoral candidate and state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles).

Hayden said he will move immediately to amend another current gun-control bill to address the problem.

Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-Altadena) has already introduced a similar bill in the Assembly.

"If cities can ban the sale of fireworks, they certainly can ban the sales of firearms," Scott said.

"The idea that people should be operating in our society with these kinds of weapons is ludicrous."

Earlier efforts to allow cities to pass their own gun-control laws have been thwarted and will be fiercely opposed by anti-gun-control forces, lawmakers said.

Noting that the weapons used by the North Hollywood gunmen Friday are already illegal, Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Northridge) said the shootout "was a prime example that gun-control laws don't stop criminals from arming."

"Criminals will get guns whether or not there are laws," McClintock said.

But Scott, whose son died in a gun accident, said the tide is changing on the issue.

"The public is reaching a saturation point on this,' Scott said. "The disgust level is very high. When a large number of cities speak up and say, 'That's enough,' then the whole state will do it too."

Scott said his bill would codify as state law what West Hollywood is attempting to do with its law banning the sale of some guns.

The West Hollywood law has been upheld by one court, but its legality has not been firmly established.

Scott said a strong city ban on sales would help--even though guns would still be available in other jurisdictions--by reducing the number of guns for sale in society.

Another gun bill Scott is sponsoring would ban advertising of illegal weapons, such as the type of armor-piercing bullets used by the bank robbers Friday, as well as hand grenades, silencers and exploding bullets.

Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), whose district is adjacent to the bank that was robbed Friday, said his Public Safety Committee will soon consider a series of gun-control bills.

"Anything that helps fight these terrible guns is good," Hertzberg said.

Democratic Assemblyman Tony Cardenas' Sylmar district also abuts the crime scene. He predicted the shootout would spur legislators to action in Sacramento.

"We should be much more aggressive in preventing people from getting their hands on those guns," Cardenas said. "I can't fathom why anyone would need a weapon like that."

On the local level, City Councilman Mike Feuer has a motion pending to back legislation that would allow Los Angeles to enact stronger gun-control laws. It will be considered by a City Council committee next week.

Times staff writer Hugo Martin contributed to this story.

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