When it comes to firearms, West Hollywood packs plenty of heat. As the national debate over firearms regulation rages on, WEHOville decided to look at how many guns are in our own backyard and in neighboring and other politically progressive LA County cities such as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Data from the state Firearms Bureau shows 2,581 handguns and long rifles have been registered in West Hollywood, a city with 24,599 households. Assaults rifles and handguns, such as the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, are few and far between, accounting for only four of those registered.
West Hollywood is greatly outgunned by neighboring Beverly Hills, whose 16,394 households harbor 272 assault weapons and 7,174 other firearms. And then there’s Santa Monica, referred to as the “People’s Republic of Santa Monica,” for its progressive politics and citizens, where 466 assault weapons and 11,917 other guns have been registered. According to 2010 U.S Census figures, Santa Monica has 50,912 households. For those who aren’t fans of guns, the county’s westside has a clear advantage over places like Compton, a city of 25,523 households where a total of 16,199 weapons have been registered, 469 of them assault weapons.
In LA County as a whole, the bureau reports 1.38 million weapons registered, with 48,195 of them designated as assault weapons. Assault weapons generally are defined as semi-automatic firearms with certain characteristics of military weapons, such as a detachable magazine, a pistol grip, a folding stock or a flash suppressor.
Kimberly Granger, the deputy attorney general who works with the Firearms Bureau, offered words of caution in interpreting the files the Firearms Bureau released to WEHOville. For one thing, the number of handguns and long guns (rifles) in bureau records dates back to when it first began collecting the data in the early 1900s. Residents who registered such guns may well have moved and taken their guns with them. Granger notes that the bureau is not authorized to retain ownership records of long guns that are not assault rifles, hence the relatively low number of them compared to handguns. That will change beginning Jan. 1, 2014, when state law again permits retention of such records. Also, there is no legal requirement to register a non-assault rifle, so records on file are voluntary registration. Some owners register such weapons in the hope that that will help them retrieve the weapon if it’s lost or stolen.
Granger also notes that some households own multiple weapons, so one can’t calculate the percentage of WeHo residents who own guns from Firearms Bureau figures. They indicate only the number of guns registered by those living within the city at the time of registration.
By law, the Firearms Bureau is barred from making public the names and addresses of gun owners, the publication of which by a newspaper in New York set off a heated debate over First Amendment issues versus gun owners’ rights to privacy.
It’s all really shocking, isn’t it? 1.3 MILLION GUNS right here in LA County. Holy smoking guns, Batman!