'Pocket Rocket' guns could be banned; firearms: a city council panel backs a measure to outlaw small weapons; police officials also support the proposal [Los Angeles, CA]
Patrick Mcgreevy, Times Staff Writer March 20, 2001, Tuesday, Home Edition Copyright 2001 / Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times March 20, 2001, Tuesday, Home Edition
(LOS ANGELES) -- Despite opposition by gun owners, a Los Angeles City Council panel recommended Monday that small handguns known as "pocket rockets" be banned from sale in Los Angeles.
The proposal by Councilman Mike Feuer would prohibit the sale of handguns 6 3/4 inches or less in length and 4 1/2 inches or less in height. It was endorsed Monday by the council's Public Safety Committee and sent to the full council for a possible vote Wednesday.
"There is a reason the police chief, the Police Department's gun unit and the Police Commission all support this motion," Feuer said. "These guns we are seeking to prohibit are commonly used in crimes precisely because they are so compact and concealable."
Similar ordinances have been adopted in Oakland and San Francisco.
The City Council has adopted more than half a dozen other gun regulations in recent years, including bans on the sale of cheap handguns known as "Saturday night specials," assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines; a mandate that trigger locks by installed on all guns sold in the city; and a requirement that gun stores get thumbprints of ammunition buyers.
California already prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns in public without a permit.
Although few such permits are issued in Los Angeles, Feuer told the council panel that 20% of the guns sold in Los Angeles are compact guns that are marketed for their ability to be concealed.
Carolann Taylor of Women Against Gun Violence told the committee that her only son was killed in 1992 by an assailant with a small handgun.
"The proliferation of guns and the easy accessibility to the guns is directly related to the tragic homicide rate," Taylor said.
A dozen people argued against the ordinance, saying it is unreasonable.
"It's a ridiculous law," said John J. Schaefer, a gun owner.
"All it does is disarm us, the decent, law-abiding citizens," Schaefer said.
Another gun owner, Gene Snyder, said the ordinance should be renamed the "Criminal Home Invasion Protection Ordinance."
Jennifer Williams, who said she has been a crime victim, said she prefers a gun with a grip that fits her small hands.
"The firearm I feel comfortable with would be banned under this ordinance," she said.
Merrill Gibson, representing disabled members of the National Rifle Assn., agreed that some women and disabled people need smaller guns of the kind that would be prohibited under the ordinance.
"It is widely known that disabled people are a preferred target of violent criminals," Gibson said.
Chuck Michel, an attorney with the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., predicted that there will be a court challenge to the measure if the council approves it.
Michel asserted it is not coincidence that the proposal is coming to a vote as Feuer's campaign for city attorney winds toward an April 10 election. Feuer said he proposed the measure two years ago, and it since has been studied and refined by the Los Angeles Handgun Task Force.
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