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San Diego sets strict rules for firearm contracts in bid to reduce gun violence

At Colorado's largest gun shop, Firing-Line, in Aurora, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, assault rifles are lined up for sale. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/TNS)

Gun dealers have to follow a new set of rules if they want to do business with San Diego.

Last month, the City Council passed the Ira Sharp Firearm Dealer Accountability Act. Authored by Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, the act creates a more robust vetting process to ensure contracts are only awarded to vendors that aren’t skirting requirements designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

According to research from Brady, a gun violence prevention group, more than $5 billion a year in government contracts is spent outfitting the nation’s law enforcement agencies with firearms. The organization also found that, in California alone, at least 90 law enforcement agencies purchased weapons from companies that didn’t follow existing gun laws.

One of the companies, Brady found, was cited for violations such as failing to submit sales reports, which help organizations like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigate potential illegal gun trafficking, and selling guns to people who may not have been the actual buyer — otherwise known as a straw purchaser.

“By using the purchasing power of the City, the ordinance before us will compel the firearms industry and its dealers to take accountability for their business practices and help keep crime guns off the street,” von Wilpert said in a statement.

The new ordinance — which builds on the work of Brady and local gun violence prevention advocate Ira Sharp, the act’s namesake — changes the city’s procurement process to ensure vendors have completed federal and state inspections without violations, have employed security measures that prevent the theft or loss of firearms and have not been cited for selling to prohibited people.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to purchase firearms and ammunition from dealers that skirt the law and expose our communities to public safety threats,” said City Attorney Mara Elliott. “This legislation reflects our City’s values by creating responsible common sense safety standards for firearm purchases.”

From 2017 through 2022, firearms took the lives of more than 1,300 people in San Diego County. About 70% of those deaths were suicides, and about 30%were homicides.


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