The city of Los Angeles on Tuesday endorsed a bill setting out rules for weapons owners on how to store their arms, a potential bellwether towards tackling the hugely controversial issue of gun control in the US.
The draft legislation, which still has to be voted on by the city council, would require guns that are kept in a home to be either locked up, or disabled with a trigger lock. The exception would be for someone carrying or using the gun. Long arms, such as rifles, would not be included.
No date was immediately set for the council’s vote.
Local authorities hope the regulations would put a dent in the thousands of suicides and other gun-related injuries that take place every year, in a country where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the federal constitution.
Arms control is a hot-button issue in the United States and usually attracts fleeting discussion in the wake of mass shootings.
President Barack Obama has said he would like to do more on a federal level. But the powerful US gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, tends to keep gun control legislation from moving anywhere in Congress, now Republican-run.
With the federal government unable to dedicate political capital or money to changing current laws, California now could help pave the way by highlighting at least some tangible change.
City councilman Paul Krekorian, a Democrat, said he hoped the NRA would back the measures.
“Even the NRA itself, any responsible gun owner… advocacy organization, will say that even if you choose to keep a handgun in your home for self-defense, you should safely store that handgun,” said the councilman.
“It’s the only responsible thing for a gun owner to do.”
Historically, California has often led the way on progressive legislation that has been controversial at the federal level — such as tighter pollution regulations.