Bad guys who want to roam Santa Monica’s streets with knives, daggers, and even swords took a major hit on Tuesday night, as the Santa Monica City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would prevent the open carry of these weapons in public.

Specifically, the motion – which had the strong support of the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) – empowers law enforcement with the language they’ve needed to actively confront and clamp down on non-firearm lethal weapons. For some time, the SMPD has lacked the tools to actively confront situations that involve these weapons, which they deal with on a regular basis.

In support, Mayor Gleam Davis said, “We are seeing a proliferation of knives and other sharp objects. We’ve even had a report of a machete here and there within the city. And I think this gives our police department the tools – without waiting to be harmed by those sharp objects – to confiscate them and determine the appropriateness of the person wielding them.”

Councilmember Oscar De La Torre was complimentary of staff responsiveness on the matter, saying, “We had a number of incidents, and immediately this ordinance comes forward for action.” He pointed to a recent incident where a city employee was stabbed and suggested that the council should also consider arming staff with pepper spray going forward, which brings with it its own controversy.

The motion passed unanimously, 6-0, with Councilmember Jesse Zwick away from this late-night item due to illness.

The council then took on guns and ammunition with a newly proposed ordinance. As presented by the SMPD, and quoted directly from the staff report, the new measure will:

  1. “Impose additional regulations on firearms retailers in the City to record firearms and ammunition sales, store firearms in a secure manner, and restrict the admittance of unaccompanied minors where firearms are sold
  2. Restrict certain weapons, including firearms, on City-owned property and other locations
  3. Establish additional responsibilities for firearm owners, including requiring liability insurance, establishing firearm safe storage obligations in residences and vehicles, and requiring firearm owners to report a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours of discovery
  4. Establish a voluntary firearm commitment program
  5. Ban the possession, sale, or transfer of non-serialized weapons, also known as ‘ghost guns’”

A “firearm commitment” program empowers residents in a home with a firearm to turn that firearm into the police for fear someone in the household may plan to use it, at least until that danger has passed.

The specific requirements of firearms retailers – the one and only within city limits being the Big 5 Sporting Goods at Wilshire and Franklin – include:

  • Store firearms and ammunition in a secure manner
  • Install a video surveillance system to deter theft and record firearm sales transactions
  • Install signage specified within the ordinance
  • Restrict unaccompanied minors from areas of the store where firearms (or ammunition) are sold

“I’m glad we’re doing it. I would hope this is not controversial – we know that strong gun control laws save lives,” said Councilmember Caroline Torosis, whose young nephew lives just down the street from Big 5.

Mayor Davis expressed a desire for the public to be made aware of the ordinance and asked staff whether there was a plan to promote it.  She said that given the technical requirements on shops and firearm owners, she doesn’t want anybody pleading ignorance of the law if confronted with an enforcement measure. The SMPD committed to promote the specifics of the new ordinance as broadly as they can.

The ordinance passed its first reading unanimously, 6-0.

Image by Elena Soloveva

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