Los Angeles residents apply to buy 200 guns a day, an alarming number making it difficult to get weapons off the street, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said in a preliminary report on gun purchases in Los Angeles.
"With Angelenos buying an average of nearly 200 firearms every day, thousands every month and tens of thousands every year, I will do everything in my power to keep guns out of the hands of people interested only in destroying the lives of children, families and police officers," Trutanich, who is in a close re-election race, said in a written statement.
The results are based on letters his office began sending out in December during the 10-day waiting period for people buying guns. The letters reminds gun owners to keep the weapons safe and report when weapons are lost or stolen.
"If we can stop just one person from buying a gun who is prohibited from possessing a weapon, or stop someone from buying guns for felons or the mentally ill, then perhaps we have also stopped another senseless tragedy," the letter said.
The letters were sent out as a follow-up to a study by the RAND Corp. that said 50 percent of people will voluntarily comply with local laws if they are informed of the requirements.
"Our intent was to make them aware of the laws and what they have to do under the law," Trutanich said in an interview. "Our purpose was to get more compliance.
Trutanich said he wants more study of the issue to see what further action to take.
Trutanich said he was surprised at the number of weapons being bought every day.
""You are talking about 73,000 guns a year, just in Los Angeles," he said. "I never guessed how many guns were being bought and sold."
Trutanich said he was surprised at the number of people - about 1 percent of those involved in all gun purchases - who were ineligible to buy a weapon either because of criminal history or mental issues.
"What does it say that someone was willing to go in to try to buy a weapon knowing they aren't eligible?" he said. "You know they are just going out to try to find someone to buy a weapon for them or get one illegally."
During the first full month of analyzing data, Trutanich said a number of problems were found in record keeping, including wrong addresses or multiple addresses, multiple numbers on driver's licenses and cases where both numbers and names were juxtaposed.
Trutanich said an effort is under way to try to determine the number of straw purchases - cases where people buy guns for someone else.
He also said the one-month study showed that dozens of applicants were denied or their applications were delayed for further background checks.
Trutanich said he was pleased to see that other jurisdictions, such as Oakland, are considering the use of similar letters to gun buyers.
He said his office has received some calls from gun owners asking about the letters and they are satisfied once his aides explain the reasons for the letters.