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Victims of High-Capacity Assault Weapon Attacks Testify at City Hall

"I was one of the lucky ones who survived," says a victim of a mass shooting in 1999 at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.

The Los Angeles City Council is poised to step into the gun control debate as members prepare to consider a proposed ban of magazine clips used in high-capacity weapons approved today by the council's Public Safety Committee.

A survivor of a shooting in 1999 at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills and a mother whose son died in a shooting involving a high-capacity assault weapon testified today before the committee, which voted unanimously to send the motion to the City Council.

"I was the same age as the kids at Sandy Hook and I was one of the lucky ones who survived," said Josh Stepakoff, who was 6 when he and four others were injured after a gunman fired a high-capacity weapon into the West Valley Jewish Community Center.

"It's a very difficult topic that people don't want to talk about," said the 20-year-old Stepakoff, who sits on the board of Women Against Gun Violence. "I'm glad that we're here having this discussion."

While it is illegal in California to manufacture, sell and transfer high-capacity ammunition magazines, the ownership of such magazines is permitted. The motion, introduced by Councilman Paul Krekorian, proposes to ban such possession.

City attorneys are set to draw up language for the ordinance and present it to council in 10 days.

Krekorian said at today's committee hearing that a commonality in shootings ranging from the 1997 North Hollywood shootout between bank robbers and LAPD officers to the recent elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., is the "high degree to which a person with evil motivation has been able to make a crime significantly worse because of higher fire power."

The motion drew support from city attorney candidate and former state assembly member Mike Feuer, as well as local gun-control advocates.

"This is the next logical step in the evolution of our gun violence legislation here in the city of Los Angeles," said Feuer, who authored a 1997 city ban on the sale and transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines while serving on the Los Angeles City Council. "There is no civilian who needs a high-capacity magazine... for any purpose."

Feuer is looking to unseat current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in the upcoming March 5 election. He said gun control ordinances passed in Los Angeles served as the catalysts for statewide measures.     

A representative for gun owner and gun industry groups threatened to sue the city if the ban goes through.

David Duringer, an attorney for pro-gun groups Calguns Foundation and Cal FFL, threatened to sue Los Angeles all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, if the ban is approved.

"People have a fundamental right to bear firearms for self defense, including ... magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds," Duringer said. "Any outright ban on the possession of magazines is a violation of the Second Amendment."

Officials in the city attorney's office seemed unperturbed by the threat.

"Bring it on," Trutanich's Communications Director Sandy Cooney said. "We completely support what the councilman (Paul Krekorian) wants to do."

electromotive February 23, 2013 at 08:50 AM
Because naturally the North Hollywood bank robbers would have followed that law had it been in effect. Forget that they didnt follow the laws on bank robbery, attempted murder, attempted murder of police officers or that dreaded city law of discharging a firearm inside city limits. But they would have followed this one.
Jock February 23, 2013 at 04:45 PM
You're right electromotive, 2 Bulgarian Nationals high on Downers wearing Michelin man suits and having weapons that were illegal at the time (high cap in CA) and robbing a bank would not have been effected by any law.. I think what they propose as law now is supposed to do, is keep that kind of firepower out of the hands of every troubled kid sitting in his room playing video games or the neighbor who suddenly sees Zombies. Criminals will always find some way. But the average person who's switch goes off is a difficult one to deal with. Perhaps if the easy legal availability of these high cap magazines and "Assault" weapons (so named not because they are defensive weapons) is curtailed eventually, it will save lives. The best plan ? Parents talk to your kids. Find out how they are and what is up and be there, don't let the computer or PS3 be the parent.
Al Po February 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM
We also need to outlaw Zepplins, there was a horribile crash in 1938....3 incidents in 20 years? Outlaw POSSESSION, how do you do that oh city counsel PC gun haters! Feuer has always been the NIMBY PC King, hopping on everybandwagon & a life long public trougher....prosecute the laws on the books, dont let a claim of self-defense prevent the City from prosecuting a gangster who kills an innocent by mistake (It happened they did NOT prosecute, he went away on a probation vioaltion anyway) Guarantee you if I shot @ someone claiming self-defense & hit & killd a kid I would be in FOlsom for 7 years, they go after people who have something to loose.....this is a feel good law that will do ZERO to prevent violence, like outlawing cheeseburgers & fried chicken in South LA will prevent obesity. More then 10 round mags cannot be bought or sold in CA, what is the purpose of this law other then to make LAW ABIDING people fear criminal prosecution & turn in their mags....Last Mr. Feuer how do you know we wont need more then 10 rounds someday? Did you see the LA Riots? Guys on Roofs with Carbines with banana clips saved their radio shop near Pinks hor dogs, the other shops were looted & burned our fearless leaders ignore such facts.....

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