At a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Lee Baca held an AK-47 similar to the one authorities say was used by alleged gang members to open fire on sheriff's deputies in Compton Tuesday night. The deputies were unharmed.
The dangerous shooting is the latest example of what happens when weapons end up in the wrong hands.
"On a daily basis any deputy that's in our area on the department runs a risk of running into something like this," said Deputy Chris Gomez.
Sheriff's deputies Gomez and Laura Perales were in Compton when they heard gunshots near Long Beach Boulevard and Oak Street. They found a suspected gang member injured at the scene.
"We saw one of the suspects," said Perales. "We then pursued him in our vehicle. He then fired at us."
"This weapon is illegal to possess in California," said Baca. "You cannot buy one of these weapons and you cannot own one of these weapons by California law. But gang members in Los Angeles had one of these weapons with a 30-round clip, which is also illegal in California."
Wednesday Baca shed some light on just how easy it is for gang members to get their hands on assault rifles.
"People who have no criminal records can go anywhere in the United States beyond California, practically, and buy a weapon and then give it to a gang member," said Baca.
Baca says there should be penalties for people who provide illegal guns to gang members, and that assault weapons have no place in a peaceful society.
"It's not unreasonable to say that there is no common sense in this kind of weapon in a domestic society," said Baca.
Despite reporting declining crime numbers overall, the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. still faces tough challenges: the war on gangs is no easier today than it's been in the past.
"We have not eradicated being the gang violence capital of America," said Baca. "We are the gang violence capital of America."
Both of Tuesday night's suspects were captured by deputies.