Regulations Firearm Laws and Ordinances - Local Ordinances
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Many laws regulating guns are local ordinances passed by town, city, and county governments. Most of these statutes regulate the sale of weapons. For example, Salt Lake County, Utah, restricts the possession of "any device or attachment of a kind designed, used or intended for use in silencing the report of any firearm." Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Akron, Ohio, restrict the transfer of possession of "any firearm from which the manufacturer's identification mark or serial number has been removed." Los Angeles limits residents to one handgun purchase per month.
Many jurisdictions restrict who can buy firearms. Examples include municipalities in Kansas, Maine, and New Mexico that prohibit the sale, possession, or receipt of any type of firearm to or by convicted felons, fugitives from justice, illegal aliens, the mentally ill, unlawful drug users, and drug addicts. Evanston, Illinois, bans the sale of all firearms.
Some cities impose longer waiting periods than those required by the Brady Law. For example, buyers in Atlanta, Georgia, must wait fifteen days, while Fairfax County, Virginia, has a thirty-day waiting period for non-state residents.
Baltimore County, Maryland, holds the parents or guardians "of underage persons liable for acts wrongfully committed with firearms." Boston, Massachusetts, restricts the sale of replica firearms. New York City outlaws the sale to a minor of any toy pistol that can be loaded with powder, and bans the sale and possession of any toy or imitation pistol that duplicates a real pistol unless the replica is in a color other than black, blue, silver, or aluminum.
With its ban of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and handguns in 1981, the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, Illinois, made national headlines. The ban excludes police officers, jail and prison authorities, members of the armed forces, licensed gun collectors, and gun clubs that maintain the guns on their premises. Chicago banned handguns in 1982. East St. Louis, Illinois, also outlawed the possession of handguns.
San Francisco enacted a local ordinance prohibiting handguns unless a person could display a compelling need. Individuals who could not demonstrate such a need were supposed to surrender their handguns, but few citizens complied with the request, and the courts eventually threw out the regulation. Since then, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and the Illinois towns of University Park and Skokie voted down similar proposed bans.
Residents are required to own guns if they live in some towns. In 1982 city officials of Kennesaw, Georgia (twenty-four miles northwest of Atlanta) passed a law requiring the head of every household in the 8,500-person town to "maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore." Exemptions were granted to residents with a physical or mental infirmity, to heads of households who had severe financial constraints, to those whose religious doctrine or belief forbade the possession of a firearm, and to convicted felons. Officials conceded that the ordinance was basically unenforceable. Virgin, Utah, with a population of 350 people, passed a similar ordinance in 2000.
Local Banning of Semiautomatic Weapons
Much gun control legislation can be traced to the schoolyard murders with a semiautomatic rifle in Stockton, California, in 1989. The Stockton city council enacted a ban on the sale and possession of certain semiautomatic firearms. Other cities with similar weapons laws include Los Angeles and Palo Alto, California; Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; East Chicago and Gary, Indiana; New York City; Chicago; and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.