LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, other elected leaders and two prominent gun violence prevention groups joined forces in a renewed push to assure guns are locked up at home, following a 9th grader’s alleged threat to shoot a classmate and the alleged discovery at his parents’ house of firearms that weren’t safely stored.
Feuer today announced that his office has filed multiple criminal charges against the youth’s father, a Pacoima resident, for allegedly keeping several firearms unsecured in the family home. The weapons allegedly were discovered as the result of an investigation by school police.
"Locking up your guns saves lives, prevents crime and it’s the law," said Feuer. "If an unsecured gun falls into the hands of a teenager and is taken to school, it’s a recipe for tragedy. This prosecution is one aspect of a collaboration we’re announcing today, between elected leaders and gun violence prevention advocates, to prevent future tragedies."
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Member Scott Schmerleson each unveiled actions they are taking on the issue of safely storing firearms.
Krekorian will introduce a motion in City Council next week to add long guns to the Municipal Code’s safe storage law. Currently the law only applies to hand guns.
"We need to do everything in our power to raise awareness about the law requiring gun owners to safely store firearms in their home," said Councilmember Krekorian. "If we get gun owners to act responsibly and follow the law, we can help prevent accidents, suicides and school shootings in our communities. We must also ensure that the law applies to all firearms so that our city and law enforcement partners have the tools they need to hold gun owners accountable and stop these types of incidents that could cause irreversible tragedy."
Schmerleson will introduce a motion next week at the LAUSD Board’s meeting to send home educational materials apprising parents of their legal obligation to safely store any firearms they possess, and have parents acknowledge they understand their responsibilities.
"I feel a deep sense of responsibility to making sure that our LAUSD students are safe and never exposed to the threat of gun violence or negligence that could have been avoided. I believe that most parents who are gun owners understand the risks that are inherent when storing a gun in their home - but we can always do more to educate our families about the critical importance of locking up their firearms," said Schmerleson. "If we can save even one child from injury or death, our efforts will be well worth the commitment we are making today."
Everytown For Gun Safety is launching a nationwide petition to the LAUSD Board to support educating parents to safe storage of guns.
Women Against Violence has created the TALK program which educates parents to safe storage of guns.
“Since our founding in 1993, WAGV has worked with families and parents to protect their children from gun violence. Our TALK Project encourages parents and caretakers to take the necessary steps to protect their children from unsecured firearms because we know that storing guns safely – unloaded and locked -- reduces incidents of suicide, school shootings, and unintentional shootings," said Margot Bennett, Executive Director.
Albert Sanchez, 48, was charged with two criminal counts of unlawful storage of a firearm. He faces up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for May 13 in Division 48 of the Criminal Courthouse Building.
On November 1, 2018, Los Angeles School Police (LASPD) allegedly received a report from the principal at Cesar Chavez Academy in San Fernando that the defendant’s son, a 9th grade student, had threatened to bring a gun to school to shoot a classmate. LASPD responded to the report after school staff had checked the student’s locker and backpack and receiving information on weapons allegedly kept at the defendant’s home.
After receiving consent from Sanchez to search the home, officers allegedly found several unloaded and unsecured weapons including: a .357 revolver found in a bag in a dresser, along with a .22 caliber handgun and a .22 caliber rifle under a mattress. These three weapons were removed by law enforcement.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy City Attorney Margarita Barron, who is assigned to prosecute gun cases and identify gun violence hot-spots throughout the City, and vertically prosecute high-risk firearm cases in those areas.
Weapons that are not safely stored in homes pose a serious public safety threat both to residents and the community. State and local law require firearms in the home be safely stored.