Saying the public is beyond frustrated, members of the Los Angeles City Council's public safety committee agreed Friday to make it illegal to possess the type of high-capacity ammunition magazines that were used to kill 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who sought the action, said people are upset with Congress' inability to approve background checks for those making weapons purchases. That legislation failed last week after political opposition from the gun rights lobby.
"I couldn't stand by and wait for another tragedy to occur,'' Krekorian said. "We can't wait for Congress to finally have the courage to deal with this issue."
The vote in the Public Safety Committee was unanimous. Review of the proposed law is expected to be taken up by the full City Council next week.
Since 2000, California has banned the manufacture, sale and importation into the state of clips holding more than 10 bullets. Krekorian's motion takes it a step further, prohibiting the possession of high-capacity magazines by declaring them a public nuisance.
Police would be able to confiscate the ammunition under the proposed law. In an amendment added Friday, a year after the ordinance goes into affect, those possessing the magazines could be charged with a misdemeanor.
The law also allows a 60-day period to legally surrender the clips once the law becomes effective. The full City Council is expected to take up the measure next week.
In a separate motion, the Public Safety Committee also agreed to amend another law requiring ammunition dealers to electronically report sales of bullets, at the time of transaction, to the city's Board of Police Commissioners. Under existing law, police officers must go to vendor sites and inspect records, a laborious and costly task, Krekorian said.
No one objected at Friday morning's meeting, he said. But in past hearings, lawyers for ammunition vendors have threatened to sue the city if the laws are approved.
Brandon Combs, executive director of the Calguns Foundation, said the moves demonstrated "hostility" toward law-abiding gun owners and vowed to file a lawsuit if enacted.
"Any ban on the possession of firearm magazines is a violation of the Second Amendment and the people's right to lawful enjoyment of their private property,'' Combs said in a prepared statement.
Krekorian said he's unmoved by the threats.
"We've heard the same tired arguments any time a common-sense regulation is suggested,'' Krekorian said. "People are just tired of it."