Is Koretz’ Nanny-State Nonsense a Diversion from Rick Caruso?

@THE GUSS REPORT-Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz has a new way to squander the city’s already strained legal and financial resources on a solution in search of a cause, namely his floundering re-election campaign. 

At a time when the City of Los Angeles faces really big problems -- when does it not? -- ranging from the usual crime, traffic, housing, homelessness and how to pay for public pensions to the very real possibility of losing hundreds of millions of federal dollars when it has to borrow money to pay wrongful death claims, Koretz wants to force gun store and shooting range owners to post suicide hotline notices -- force being the operative word. 

Koretz did not provide any hard statistical data, opting instead for his standard vague claim: “suicide is the leading cause of death among Californians who have purchased a firearm within a year.”   

The specifics Koretz failed to provide are: 

  1. How many years back is he counting? The most recent year? The past five or 20 years? 
  1. Is he talking about first-time gun buyers? Koretz’ claim goes out the window if he is counting people who bought otherguns more than a year before and did not commit suicide within a year of those purchases. 
  1. How does the city define suicide? We know Koretz’ definition of deathis funky when it comes to killing thousands of healthy, adoptable shelter animals and still managing to call LA “No Kill.” Does Koretz’ definition of “suicide” include, for instance, suicide by cop, where someone entices a law enforcement officer to shoot them by pointing a gun, or a gun replica, in their direction without actually shooting it? Dollars to donuts it does…or he doesn’t know. 
  1. Why is the message limited to suicide while excluding homicide and other misuses? 
  1. Why did Koretz choose the one-year timeframe, since someone purchasing a gun for the purpose of ending his life is probablyintent on doing it imminently, rather than waiting a year? Does someone plan a suicide a year in advance, or is this Koretz’s way of casting an illogically wider net so that his claims are contorted to fit his goal? 
  1. And what exactly isKoretz’ goal? Is this Koretz’ Trumpian effort to create a distraction and get his name out of the way of a much bigger story this very same week? 

So what is that other story? It’s how Koretz enabled wealthy real estate developer Rick Caruso to build yet another oversized luxury building in his Council District despite an affordable housing crunch, and despite an outcry about its quality of life impact by Koretz’ constituents and opponents in the upcoming City Council primary where he seeks a third and final term.   

Recently, when pressured, Koretz (who never met a real estate developer’s donation he didn’t embrace) reversed his earlier support for Caruso’s luxury project, but then voted in favor of it when some square footage was lopped off -- even though it still violated long-established community guidelines. That is Trump 101. 

If Koretz is genuinely interested in pursuing nanny-state interests, as he has done throughout his career, perhaps he will consider doing it in ways that might have far greater benefits for Los Angeles.  

For instance, he could try to force Jack-in-the-Box, Fat Burger and other fast food joints to post messages about how fat, sodium and cholesterol in its products lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. This is another form of suicide that impacts infinitely more Angelenos, especially in the poorer reaches of the city. Former Councilmember “Hamburger” Jan Perry tried to ban new fast food restaurants a few years back. How did that turn out? 

Maybe City Hall can force CVS and Target to post overt notices warning of opiate addiction, sexually transmitted diseases and sugar in the pharmacy, condom and candy aisles -- just to cover all bases. 

If Koretz really wants to save us from ourselves, he should first force Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile to warn of the hazards of texting while driving. They already do, but Koretz’ love of having government creep into our lives should make it mandatory; he could also dictate the size, location and color of the signs. 

Koretz would serve us much better if – rather than spending copious amounts of money on lawyers forcing private business owners to take action – he simply created a program where posting such notices is voluntary. Cooperative awareness is more affordable than attorneys, and it is probably as effective. 

For what it’s worth, I don’t own a gun and never have. I believe we need infinitely more effective gun control laws, crisis screening and stronger, mandatory penalties for people possessing guns without a license.  

It isn’t Koretz’ message that is objectionable. It is his priorities, method and motive.


(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a contributor to CityWatch, Huffington Post, KFI AM-640 and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.