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Council passes measure to figure out where guns used in Los Angeles crimes come from

File: A woman handles a pistol at a gun shop.
Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images
File: A woman handles a pistol at a gun shop.

The Los Angeles City Council  unanimously approved a motion Wednesday meant to spur research into where most of the guns used in crimes in the region are coming from.

The measure would scour L.A. Police Department's records of guns used in crimes to find the sources of the firearms. 

L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian wrote he measure; he says it'll help law enforcement target "bad apple" dealers who may or may not be using shady practices to get all these guns on the streets. It comes the same day as a shooting that left two dead on the UCLA campus.

"It was ironic that we got the notification about 15 minutes before I stood up to speak on my motion and to declare National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It was pretty incredible," Krekorian told KPCC.

Krekorian said there are about 30,000 gun deaths every year. If the same number of deaths were the result of terrorism, disease, accidents, using a particular product or any other source, Krekorian argued, the United States would devote all resources necessary to identifying the cause.

A similar law was passed in Chicago, Krekorian said, where the city partnered with the nonprofit Crime Gun Solutions. It determined that 90 percent of the guns used in Chicago crimes came from four gun dealers. He added that "bad apple" gun dealers who evade or ignore the law have a disproportionate impact on creating gun violence and hurting public safety.

"If we were to determine, for example, that there are a few gun dealers either in Los Angeles or elsewhere, that are responsible for guns — a disproportionate number of guns — getting to our streets, then we could consider options with regard to those gun dealers, whether it be a civil lawsuit, whether it be enforcement measures, either by local or state or federal officials. There's any number of different solutions that might be appropriate depending on what the information is that we find in the study," Krekorian said.

The councilman also said that tracking purchases online posed a whole other set of problems. He added he hopes that that can handled on a national level.

The Chicago study found that lax business practices had resulted in gun dealers enriching themselves at the expense of public safety, according to Krekorian. He said they ignored obvious indications of so-called "straw purchases," buying a gun only to transfer it to someone forbidden from owning a gun. He also said they ignored sales of large volumes of guns to individuals that were obviously meant to be resold on the street.

"So there are a number of bad practices that these bad apple dealers can engage in that skirt the law and make it easier for people to acquire guns to use in crimes," Krekorian said.

L.A. has recently passed legislation banning possession of large capacity magazines and requiring safer home storage.

"Across the country, I think people are really crying out for more action, and this is another step forward in trying to lay the foundation for that kind of action," Krekorian said.