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To do business with Los Angeles, city contractors now must disclose ties with the NRA

Los Angeles City Hall, Los Angeles, California. (Ken Lund/Flickr)

The L.A. City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring companies that have contracts with the city to disclose whether they have ties to the National Rifle Assn., already prompting threats of a lawsuit.

The vote was 14 to 0. Councilman Jose Huizar was absent.

Prospective contractors now must disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the NRA. The city has similar policies about companies involved in the construction of President Trump’s proposed border wall and over the historic investment in or profits from slavery.

The ordinance on the NRA was sought by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who cited several recent mass shootings in the U.S. At Tuesday’s meeting, he said the NRA has “been a road block to gun safety reform at every level of government now for several decades.”

Several gun safety groups who support the NRA ordinance gathered with O’Farrell outside City Hall before the vote.

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“Let’s take a look at who we’re doing businesses with who is doing business with the NRA,” said Margot Bennett, executive director of Women Against Gun Violence.

The NRA disclosure law contains more than a dozen exemptions, including contracts involving the city’s pension funds and other investment agreements.

Still, attorneys for the NRA said they would file a lawsuit if the ordinance passed, according to a Feb. 4 letter sent to the city. In the letter, the NRA said the law violates the 1st Amendment and is “an unconstitutional effort to restrict and chill an individual’s right to associate and express their political beliefs.”

NRA attorney Chuck Michel told The Times he was unaware of any other city that had enacted such a policy.

“Politicians are free to disagree with the NRA’s pro-freedom, firearm safety, and self-reliance message, but they aren’t free to censor it — as this would do when NRA supporters drop their NRA memberships for fear of losing their livelihood from being on this blacklist,” Michel said. “This is modern day McCarthyism, and my clients are confident no judge will let it stand.”

Before Tuesday’s vote, O’Farrell said that City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office advised that the city is “on firm legal ground.”

Groups opposing the new ordinance include the Studio City Neighborhood Council, which sent a statement to the City Council saying that while “stakeholders are concerned about gun violence,” singling out an organization “smacks of politics, makes little sense and could result in unwanted legal costs.”

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The City Council has backed several gun control measures, including one requiring Angelenos to lock up or disable their handguns at home if the guns aren’t close at hand.

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© 2019 the Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.