I wanted to talk to you about gun violence. Like so many of you, I’m just sick and tired of hearing the calls for “thoughts and prayers” as gun tragedies are in the news practically every day. So I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s newsletter to the topic. Not only do I share in the country's collective frustration but I also want to offer some possible solutions.
Personally, I’ve been working on gun violence issues for forty-five years, but I never imagined things getting this much worse. In fact, in 1988 I authored legislation banning semi-automatic rifles in West Hollywood, the first city to pass such a ban without waiting to have a massacre to occur first in the vicinity. I also co-authored the ban on "Saturday Night Special" handguns in West Hollywood in the 1990's. Last year, I introduced legislation to ban bump-stock assault rifles kits – the likes of which were used in the Las Vegas mass shooting this past year. I also authored a motion requiring all gun stores and firing ranges to display Suicide Prevention information.
But these days, gun-related accidents, murders, and suicides are on the rise while everyone is senselessly waiting for the Federal Government to restore an assault weapons ban. More and more innocent victims are being slaughtered by weapons designed for military battle. Assault weapons serve no purpose other than killing, and their possession should be entirely banned in the City. The time has come to get these tools of murder out of the City of Los Angeles.
To date, the State of California has enacted some of the strictest gun control measures in the United States, including the legislation I authored while I served in the state assembly banning .50 caliber rifles. However, residents of our State are still not immune to the gun violence that plagues the rest of the country. Four recent acts of gun violence in California are far from isolated: the shooting at the Poway synagogue by a white supremacist; the shooting of Nipsey Hussle in front of his store on Crenshaw Avenue; the shooting of festivalgoers at the Gilroy Garlic Festival; and last month’s heinous shooting of off-duty LAPD Officer Juan Diaz who was only 24 years old. Each year, hundreds of Californians lose their lives due to gun violence alone and far more nationwide - the country is still reeling from Wednesday’s eight-hour shooting and standoff in Philadelphia.
These are only the most recent examples of why I introduced a motion to ban the possession of assault weapons within the City of Los Angeles (Watch the ABC video news clip here). While an assault weapons ban would not halt every mass shooting, those that are committed without such weapons would result in considerably less carnage, and in all likelihood, fewer would occur.
Councilmember Koretz Introduces Motion to Prohibit the Possession of All Assault Weapons Within the City of Los Angeles
In response to the frequency of mass shootings, with the most notable recent ones taking place in Gilroy, California, Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz introduced a motion to have the City Attorney prepare and present an ordinance to prohibit the possession of all assault weapons within the City of Los Angeles.
“We have heard the requests of the people of Los Angeles and even the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Councilmember Koretz who authored the motion. “Far too many people are dying while the Federal Government continues to fail to restore an assault weapons ban. While political parties are quibbling over hypothetical solutions at the Federal level, more and more innocent victims are being slaughtered by weapons designed for war. Assault weapons serve no purpose other than killing people, and their possession should be entirely banned in the City. The time has come to get these tools of mass murder out of the City of Los Angeles. While such a ban would not halt every mass shooting, those that are committed without such weapons would result in considerably less carnage, and in all likelihood fewer would occur.”
The motion has been referred to the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
LA City Councilmembers Smith & Wesson Introduce Resolution Promoting Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence
In light of the tragic shootings, Councilmember Greig Smith and Council President Herb Wesson introduced a Resolution in Los Angeles City Council calling on the state of California and the Federal government to pass legislation that will reduce gun violence in the United States. The U.S. is unique among developed countries in the level and frequency of deaths caused by firearms. The Resolution calls for common sense legislation that is proven to reduce gun violence.
"Communities and families across America are grieving over the horrible shootings that struck El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH this weekend, less than a week after a shooting in Gilroy, CA," said Councilmember Smith. "Claims that nothing can be done to stop this violence are not borne out by the facts. Not taking action is a choice that condemns yet more families and communities to endure the heartbreak and tragedy of the next mass shooting. We can take action today to reduce the likelihood that violent individuals can access the means and carry out such an attack. This Resolution details steps that can be taken that the City of Los Angeles would support to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in America."
"The gun violence epidemic in our country is not normal and it's not something we in Los Angeles will accept as we stand idly by," said Council President Herb Wesson. "In just over a week, we've been shaken by three tragic mass shootings which have made it clear that nowhere is truly safe in a country that allows these weapons of war to be sold and carried on our streets. This resolution is our message to our state and federal legislators: We need meaningful reform on gun control now."
The Resolution gives concrete examples of legislation that can be adopted and which polling indicates enjoy majority support that would reduce the risk and incidences of gun violence in our communities. Los Angeles and the State of California have led the nation in passing responsible regulations for firearms. However, guns continue to make their way into our communities and cause pain due to lax laws in neighboring states. Reducing gun violence will require action from all states and the Federal government including universal background checks for firearms and ammunition, an assault weapons ban, and a ban on high capacity magazines and gun modification kits that increase lethality.
The resolution also called on a national policy to set minimum standards requiring social media administrators to remove or block hate speech on their platforms. Mass shooters in the last week had been in some way influenced by hate speech and ideologies catered by people through social media networks.
Remembering the North Valley Jewish Community Center Shooting
On Saturday, August 10, 2019, Councilmember Koretz joined his good friend, Congressman Brad Sherman, commemorating and remembering the tragic North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting in Granada Hills when a white supremacist walked into the lobby and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, firing 70 shots into the complex. The gunfire wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Shortly thereafter, the gunman murdered mail carrier Joseph Ileto, fled the state, and finally surrendered to authorities.;
It has been twenty years since that tragic day. At the time, this tragedy shocked the country. Twenty years later we have horrific mass shootings like this with great frequency, but with virtually no action at the Federal level. The Gilroy shooting shows that having strong state laws isn’t always enough to stop these kinds of shootings, when assault weapons can be bought easily in a neighboring State. We must work together to eradicate hate and implement common sense gun control legislation that works on a national level. We must all remember Joseph Ileto and all the victims and their families affected as we work towards a better tomorrow for all people.
||Memorial Service speakers and attendees included: Congressmember Brad Sherman, Councilmember Paul Koretz, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Assemblymember Christy Smith, as well as survivors, friends and families of the North Valley Jewish Community Center.|