(CNS) The Los Angeles City Council voted today to ban the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines within the city, despite threats from gun rights groups that they would sue.
Councilman Mitchell Englander said before the 11-0 vote that the action will not take guns away from their owners. "This is taking away high-capacity magazines," he said.
The sale and transfer of high-capacity clips is a crime in California, but people can still legally own them. The proposed ordinance -- which must still be approved by the mayor -- would declare the clips a public nuisance and allow police in Los Angeles to confiscate them.
"It's an issue of an antiquated loophole in which you can possess it, but you can't manufacture it, you can't sell it, you can't distribute them, but you can own them," Englander said. "It just doesn't make a lot of sense.
"What it boils down to is the intent of high-capacity magazines and the destruction they can cause and do cause," he said.
"We aren't doing anything extreme," said Councilman Dennis Zine.
Councilman Paul Krekorian first proposed the ban in February, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting massacre. A gunman wielding a high-capacity assault weapon killed 26 people, most of them children, last December.
Zine, a former police officer, last week called the proposed law "reasonable."
"Ten rounds is enough to protect your business and family," he said. "You don't need to have 30 rounds, or 40 rounds."
Gun rights lawyers sent a letter to the City Council this week saying they would sue if such a law were approved.
"If the city passes the firearm magazine ban, we absolutely intend to sue the city for numerous violations of civil rights and law," CalGuns Foundation Executive Brandon Combs told City News Service.
He also contends the City Council has no authority to ban magazines and may be pre-empted by state law from doing so.
Also today, the council voted 11-0 in favor of digitizing records of firearm sales and transfers, which would eliminate the need for police employees to travel to gun stores and shooting ranges to pick up hard-copy documents.