|Villaraigosa, Guns, Gangs and Groundhog Day
Walter Moore[attorney, L.A. mayoral candidate] 6/4/07
Remember the movie "Groundhog Day," where Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over again? Mayor Villaraigosa is inflicting the same deja vu on us with his "new" proposals for more laws on guns and gangs.
This week, Mayor Villaraigosa took some time out of his busy international travel schedule to announce, for about the nine millionth time, that he supports "new" laws to stop gang members from getting guns.
The L.A. Times / Hoy treated this as news, but it wasn't. In November 2007, Villaraigosa issued a press release congratulating himself for having supposedly adopted, in April 2007, "a comprehensive approach to combating and reducing gun and gang violence in LA." Villaraigosa had issued a similar press release in February 2007, saying, "If we can stop guns from illegally falling into the hands of gangs, we can stop the violence and stop the killings." In August 2006, same story.
In fact, we already have laws on the books that Villaraigosa could use to fight gangs. Consider the following California Penal Code provisions on gangs and guns:
Section 186.22(a) already makes it a crime, subject to imprisonment, to actively participate in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and to willfully assist in that conduct. Note: prosecutors don't even have to prove use or possession of a gun to obtain a conviction under this statute.
Section 12025(a) already makes it a crime to carry a concealed firearm on one's person or "within any vehicle." And, under Section 12025(b)(3) it's a felony a gang member to do so. Section 12031 says pretty much the same thing regarding loaded weapons.
Section 12021 makes it a felony for convicted felons and drug addicts to have possession of a firearm. Section 626.9 makes it a felony to have a gun on school grounds.
Various other provisions authorize imprisonment for criminals caught using the guns. For example, Section 246 makes it a crime to shoot at an inhabited house, building, car or airplane.
So we've already got laws galore to stop gang members from using guns. We don't need more laws. We need more enforcement.
Villaraigosa, however, expects us to believe that the City needs to adopt ordinances:
* Banning .50 caliber bullets
* Licensing ammunition vendors
* Requiring gun dealers to keep better gun inventories
* Requiring ammunition purchases to in-person, face-to face
* Banning the installation of secret gun compartments in cars
* Seizing the vehicles used by gang members while committing gang-related crimes
* Enabling landlords to evict gang members convicted of violent crimes with firearms.
Villaraigosa's proposed new laws would waste scarce law enforcement resources and tax dollars, and embroil the City in pointless litigation.
For example, does anyone seriously believe that crime will drop if the City of Los Angeles bans.50 caliber bullets? More likely, the City would simply get sued for trying to adopt gun regulations in a field that only the state and national governments are allowed to regulate. The City would lose, just as San Francisco did when it tried to ban handguns.
As for the proposal to seize cars gang members use when they commit crimes, are you kidding me? For that to work, a gang member must reason as follows: "Well, I was going to do a drive-by shooting tonight, for which I might serve five years in jail, but now that the City might seize my car, I think I'll just stay home and play video games instead."
As for the ban on secret gun compartments in cars, how much time will our attorneys waste in court litigating whether a given compartment was for a gun, or was instead installed to protect valuables? It's already illegal to carry a concealed weapon in a car. Let's prosecute gang members for that.
Perhaps Villaraigosa does not realize we already have laws on the books already to combat gangs and guns. After all, he never did pass the Bar Exam despite four attempts and three years in law school.
More likely, however, Villaraigosa thinks you don't know any better, and he wanted to stage yet another photo-op to show how "tough" on crime he is.
If I'm elected Mayor, I won't re-invent the wheel by proposing redundant new laws. Instead, I will build the police force from the current 9,700 or so officers to at least 12,500, and they will zealously enforce existing laws. I will immediately end Villaraigosa's "sanctuary city" policy for gang members -- and all other illegal aliens, for that matter.
I will also work with city, county and federal prosecutors and officials to ensure that all gang members receive and serve the maximum sentences permitted by law. And for any of those who are illegal aliens, I will ensure that, after serving their time, they are deported, not released back into our community. CRO
2008 Walter Moore