Oakland proposes several gun-safety laws including ban on high-capacity magazines

- Oakland officials are proposing several new ordinances to regulate guns in the city, seeking to reduce guns stolen from homes and vehicles including from law enforcement officers and banning high-capacity magazines, according to city officials. 

From the steps of City Hall Friday morning, Oakland police displayed some of the high-capacity gun magazines they’ve taken off the streets along with about 900 guns. 

Police Chief Sean Whent showed off what he called the “ingenuity” of some criminals where they’ve attached multiple high-capacity magazines together for a handgun. Under the new proposal, city councilmembers say gun owners would be banned from owning any magazines with more than 10 rounds. It’s already illegal to buy those magazines, but the proposal goes a step further, making it illegal to even own them. 

The ban on high-capacity magazines is proposed by City Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Annie Campbell Washington is based on similar legislation in Sunnyvale and San Francisco, where owners of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds had to turn them in or get them out of city limits.

Such magazines are illegal to sell, purchase or manufacture in California, but owners who had them prior to 2000 have been allowed to keep them.

"There are mass shootings almost daily in our country and we need to do all we can do to make it harder to access large volumes of ammunition," Kalb said in a statement. "No one really needs a large capacity magazine. That's why we need to ban them."

Kalb and Washington are also proposing to require gun owners to keep their guns locked, either with a lock box or a trigger lock, while stored in their home.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and City Attorney Barbara Parker are specifically taking on thefts of guns from vehicles, including law enforcement officers' vehicles.

They are proposing two ordinances: the first would make it a crime for firearms, magazines or ammunition to be left unsecured in cars on city streets and the second would enact similar restrictions for law enforcement
officers with city-issued firearms

If passed, they would make it a misdemeanor for civilians to leave unlocked guns in a car, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Punishments for Oakland police officers would be left up to the
department.

Numerous guns are stolen in the thousands of auto burglaries Oakland police respond to each year. In 2014, the department reported there were more than 7,000 auto burglaries in the city.

Thefts of guns from law enforcement officers has come under scrutiny recently after guns stolen from federal agents in auto burglaries in San Francisco turned up as the murder weapon in two high-profile shootings inrecent months.

On Sept. 29, Emeryville artist Antonio Ramos was shot and killed as he was working on a mural in West Oakland by a suspect wielding a gun stolen from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

On July 1, 30-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed while visiting San Francisco's Pier 14 by a suspect with a gun stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management agent's car. Exactly how many guns are stolen from law enforcement officers remains unclear. Oakland police declined to release any information about
guns stolen from department officers in a response to a California Public Records Act request filed in July.

"We must make it much harder for guns to get into the hands of those who use them to cause harm," Kaplan said in a statement today. "Leaving guns unsecured in unattended vehicles creates a serious danger and risk to the public and should not be allowed."

In Oakland, current department policy prohibits police from leaving their guns unsecured in cars. 

"We don't want our police officers now, leaving a gun in a car where it can get stolen. Sensible storage applies to everyone," Whent said.  

Oakland doesn't have any gun stores, but the closest is the Elite Armory in Castro Valley. They feel like the proposed ban wouldn't work, because criminals wouldn't pay any attention. They do, however, believe in safe storage of guns. 

The proposed ordinances are the latest in the city's efforts to find ways to reduce the presence of guns in the city. Last month, the council approved $1 million for Oakland police for new staff members, overtime
funding and technology upgrades to gather evidence and track illegal guns.

Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee will consider the proposed ordinances on Dec. 15. If the proposal is approved, it could take effect by spring 2016. 


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