Posted: 3/23/2001 12:18:21 AM EDT
Bill Would Ban Sale Of Guns At Homes
Assembly OKs plan to restrict dealers
Sacramento -- The Democrat-dominated Assembly easily passed a measure yesterday that would ban, with significant exceptions, licensed dealers from selling guns out of their homes.
This is the third year Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, has attempted to get his bill signed into law. Despite several amendments -- including exempting the handicapped -- Gov. Gray Davis declined to support the bill during his first year in office, saying he had signed enough gun control laws.
This year, however, lawmakers are holding Davis to his word that he will consider new gun control measures. So a flood of bills have been introduced, including two controversial measures to test and license handgun owners.
"We're now ready to start negotiations" with the governor's office, Lowenthal said yesterday, after his measure passed the Assembly, 46 to 20. The bill did not get a single Republican vote in the lower house, where Democrats have a firm majority.
Of the 3,200 Californians with permits to sell guns, an estimated 2,500 sell from their homes. One federal study traced thousands of guns used in crimes in Los Angeles in 1998, and found that more than 13,600 were bought through licensed dealers who didn't report the sales to authorities. Most of those dealers worked out of their homes.
Lowenthal said he designed the measure to prevent unregulated gun sales in residential neighborhoods. In some cases, he said, gun dealers are mailing firearms through overnight mail, which is then left on doorsteps if the owner is not home.
"Dealer corruption emerged as a surprisingly significant source of supply," Julius Wachtel, an investigator with the Treasury Department wrote in his report on Los Angeles sales. "Gun tracing disclosed that some retailers had not only failed to account for incoming guns but also ignored state registration requirements."
Federal and state police say they have a difficult time regulating home dealers. It may take five years for an investigator to come around and "it seems the privacy and flexibility enjoyed by gun dealers who are licensed to do business from a (home) can make oversight a tough task, indeed," the report said.
Lowenthal's bill requires police, starting in 2004, to reject a gun-selling license to anyone working from their home. Exceptions are made for rural areas with less than 100,000 population, for people who primarily repair guns, for people who sell curios and relics and for anyone who is physically disabled and therefore can't operate their gun business elsewhere.
This is not the toughest gun-control bill of the year, but it nevertheless provoked significant wrath from Republicans during debate yesterday in the Assembly. At the least, lawmakers appeared grateful to be arguing about something other than the energy crisis.
"This bill interferes with local control and interferes with honest men and women who may have a minimum amount of business conducted out of their home," said Assemblyman Richard Dickerson, R-Redding. "Let me assure you that the people who sell out of their home sell one or two guns at a time."
Freshman Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa, said he never once had to serve a warrant on an in-home gun dealer in his 31 years in law enforcement. He called Lowenthal's bill "totally uncalled for."
I'm gonna puke any second no
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