LOS ANGELES (CN) - Shasta County's sheriff says LA's ban on high-capacity gun magazines "encourages criminals to commit crimes with greater confidence" - and 29 other sheriffs have joined him in a fight to overturn it.
Gun rights groups joined the 30 sheriffs in Superior Court, claiming that when Los Angeles banned gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds in July, it "land locked" gun owners who already had the legal weapons.
Lead plaintiff Shasta County Sheriff Thomas Bosenko says that California has regulated the sale, possession and use of high-capacity magazines - those that hold more than 10 bullets - since Jan. 1, 2000.
High-capacity magazines legally acquired before that date were exempt from the state's "regulatory scheme" and grandfathered in, according to the Oct. 23 lawsuit.
Bosenko, who emphasized that he did not speak for all law enforcement officers, told Courthouse News that the ban "does nothing to reduce gun violence."
And Chuck Michel, California Rifle & Pistol Association's president and plaintiffs' attorney, said law enforcement officers reject the regulations.
"Our law enforcement clients do not appreciate that this ordinance makes criminals out of people who are authorized to use these magazines to defend themselves or their families anytime their travels take them through the City of Los Angeles," Michel said.
Michel's organization is the official National Rifle Association group for California.
Sheriff Bosenko added: "Certainly, everyone does not want to see any more of the violent tragedies that have been in the news. However, we must reject the idea every time a law is broken, society is responsible. Hold the criminal accountable with strict laws and harsh punishments, rather than impacting the law abiding citizen with more laws."
Bosenko said gun control laws encourage criminals to commit crimes.
"The ordinance impacts those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes," he said. "Ordinances and laws such as the magazine ban make it better for the criminal and encourage them to commit crimes with greater confidence."
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who led colleagues in passing the ban, called the lawsuit "a predictable and desperate attempt by NRA lawyers to strike down a common-sense policy that will keep our city and its people safe."
"Every time any leader takes a stand to enhance the safety of our communities, we can expect the gun lobby to go on the attack and try to knock us down," Krekorian said.
Krekorian said the City Council passed the law "to give law enforcement another tool to protect the public and get these deadly devices off the streets."
"Because the vast majority of mass shooters possess and use large capacity magazines to kill and maim innocent people, laws like this are critical to safeguard our city's residents," Krekorian said. "We will vigorously fight this attempt to thwart the democratic process, and I'm confident we will prevail."
The City Council banned possession of high-capacity gun magazines in July, after receiving reports from the city attorney. Under the new law, signed by defendant Mayor Eric Garcetti on Aug. 7 and effective Sept. 19, gun owners have until Nov. 18 to get rid of their high-capacity magazines.
The ordinance mirrors similar statutes in San Francisco and Sunnyvale.
California governments have enacted 24 laws and 6 regulations covering large-capacity magazines.
The sheriffs claim the city law conflicts with state regulations, which ban the manufacture and sale of the magazines but not their possession, and contradicts "numerous" state laws.
"Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands," of Californians currently possess the banned magazines, the plaintiffs claim, including those who live in Los Angeles or frequently travel through the city," the sheriffs say in the complaint.
They complain that the law subjects citizens to "arrest and criminal prosecution" for, in effect, doing nothing: simply "remaining in possession of their magazines in their homes."
They say it contributes to a "patchwork quilt" of laws that citizens, including off-duty police officers, must navigate under threat of criminal prosecution.
"The city's possession band effectively land locks numerous individuals who are unable to transport their magazine anywhere without traveling through Los Angeles," the complaint states.
Joining the sheriffs as plaintiffs are the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, the California Reserve Peace Officers Association, sheriffs, and six gun owners, including a retired policeman, a retired member of the military, members of shooting teams and firearms instructors.
The 30 plaintiff sheriffs constitute 50 percent plus 1 of California's 58 sheriffs.
They seek declaratory judgment, writ of mandate and an injunction staying enforcement of the ban.
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