Like many law enforcement agencies around the country, the Los Angeles County Probation Office had a practice of selling surplus or older firearms that were no longer used by the department. The key word is “had”, because this week L.A. County supervisors put a halt to an online auction of more than 300 9mm handguns used by probation officers, claiming the sales are “insensitive” in the wake of the shootings in Monterey Park.
The move was spearheaded by council member Hilda Solis, who’s been one of the loudest voices on the board when it comes to calling for more restrictions on legal gun owners in the county. Solis introduced a last-minute addition to the supervisors’ agenda this week that calls not only for an end to the surplus gun sales, but to have all surplus firearms owned by county agencies to be melted down and destroyed rather than sold to gun stores or individual citizens… even if those sales were subjected to every one of California’s existing gun control measures like a ten-day waiting period and a background check.
Fourth District Supervisor and Board Chair Janice Hahn said she has participated in gun buybacks and was outraged that the Probation Department would put guns back on the street. This was of particular concern to Solis and Hahn who pointed out that 11 people were killed and nine others injured in a mass shooting at a dance club in Monterey Park on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Solis had spent several days in Monterey Park, attending vigils for the victims. In the motion, Solis wrote: “Such an auction directly compromises the Board’s efforts to address the gun violence epidemic, is antithetical to the County’s values, and is highly insensitive in the wake of the recent tragedy in our community.”
“I want to get guns off the street. I don’t want to put them back onto the street,” Hahn said, calling the intent to sell guns by the Probation Department “absurd.”
Hahn said she has spoken to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna to stop the sale and to collect the guns and destroy them. She indicated Luna had agreed.
At first, the board said they needed to pass the urgency motion to stop the online auction. However, Dawyn R. Harrison, interim county counsel, told the Board the guns were no longer for auction on the internet sales site. “It has been pulled down,” she said.
This isn’t about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Every firearm sold through the online auction would have be transferred to an FFL, who would then conduct a background check on the buyer before it could be released to them (again, after the mandatory ten-day waiting period enshrined in state law). As Han explicitly stated, any and all gun sales are problematic as far as she’s concerned, because she thinks there are too many guns “on the street” as it is.
If the Board of Supervisors could get away with a complete prohibition on gun sales in all of Los Angeles County you know they would have already slapped that ban on the books. As it is the board has taken aim at existing gun stores in the county, directing the county attorney back in September to draft a series of ordinances regulating firearm and ammunition sales. So far the board hasn’t taken final action on their proposals, but the restrictions are looming for local FFLs and gun owners.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday [September 13, 2022] directed its attorneys to draft a series of ordinances aimed at regulating gun sales and possession in the county, including a ban on the sale of .50-caliber handguns and ammunition in unincorporated areas.
Another proposed ordinance would require “buffer zones” between gun/ammunition dealers and “sensitive areas” such as schools, day care centers and parks in unincorporated areas. Another would ban the possession of firearms on all county property.
The board also directed county staff to draft within 90 days a series of other regulations, including requiring ammunition dealers to obtain a county business license; restricting minors’ access to gun and ammunition stores; requiring such stores to submit annual sales reports to the county licensing agency and to submit weekly reports on inventory. The rules would also require weapons and ammunition store owners to maintain a fingerprint log, install security cameras and notify all of their customers about “gun owner responsibilities and gun laws along with options for nearby gun safety classes,” according to the motion.
These proposed ordinances have a lot more to do with harassing FFLs into giving up their businesses and making it more difficult for Los Angeles residents to lawfully acquire a firearm or ammunition than preventing criminals from illegally obtaining firearms, but that’s nothing new in California. What has changed, however, is the legal landscape for restrictions like these, and the real meltdown is likely to occur when the supervisors are forced to defend these unconstitutional provisions in court.