On Gun Reform, Local Governments Lead the Way

California is known for having some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. But safe gun policies are even more potent at the local level, with cities and counties often leading the way on reform.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a series of measures Tuesday aimed at curbing gun violence in the wake of a mass shooting in Monterey Park. These measures include a ban on 50-caliber handguns in unincorporated areas and a ban on guns on county property even for those with a concealed weapons permit. The county is also pursuing a 1,000-foot buffer zone between gun stores and “child safety zones” such as playgrounds.

Los Angeles County isn’t alone. Numerous localities have passed stricter gun laws than the state’s in recent years. Examples include gun sale buffer zones in Alameda County, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz; gun sale videotaping mandates in cities like San Jose and San Francisco; and a liability insurance requirement for gun owners in San Jose.

“California is one of the few states in which the gun lobby hasn’t been successful in convincing state legislators to take the power to regulate guns away from local jurisdictions,” Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy for Giffords Law Center, told the Sacramento Bee. “Because of that, localities in California have broad authority to pass whatever gun laws they feel they need to keep their communities safe.”

These local regulations have often served as models for state law, and gun control activists hope that will continue. However, state lawmakers are facing an enormous challenge from a very conservative Supreme Court. In the coming months and years, the state will struggle to maintain some of the gun laws already on the books.