Head to Head
Conversations on Politics, Policy in the Golden State
By Griffin Dix
California Must Continue its Leadership in Reducing Gun Violence
California has the strongest gun laws in the nation and they are saving lives. Between 1993 and 2014, California reduced its firearm mortality rate by 58 percent � more than twice the reduction made in the rest of the nation.
A major reason for this success is that California�s laws have made it harder for criminals and other dangerous people to obtain dangerous weapons. Our laws have helped combat illegal firearms trafficking, reduced firearm homicides and suicides, and enabled law enforcement to remove weapons from prohibited persons.
California now has a lower rate of overall firearm mortality than the U.S. population excluding California. Our state also specifically has lower rates of gun homicide and of gun suicide.
But more must be done to make our communities safe. More than 6,000 people are shot in California each year and nearly half of them die. In the U.S., firearm laws remain the weakest of all industrialized nations and these weak federal laws undermine California�s efforts to reduce gun violence here. About one-third of the crime guns recovered by California law enforcement and traced were first sold in other states.
We can do more to protect Californians against gun trafficking from other states and also from within our state. One way is to extend California�s law that currently restricts handgun purchases to one per month. We should limit long gun purchases to one per month as well. This will help prevent gun traffickers from buying multiple rifles and selling them on the black market.
We can also make it easier to enforce our laws which prohibit criminals from purchasing ammunition. We need to require that sellers of ammunition register with the state Department of Justice and that ammunition buyers pass background checks. Finally, we need to close several loopholes which are currently allowing weapons to be especially dangerous. These laws will not unduly inconvenience gun owners.
With these sensible regulations Californians will be safer and our state will continue its tradition of leading the way in reducing gun violence.
Griffin Dix is Co-Chair of the Oakland/Alameda County chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His son was shot and killed in 1994. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California.
By Sam Paredes
It�s Time to Ask Some Tough Questions
Gun control: Never has this issue been so fraught with angst and emotion – and now we must be willing to ask hard questions, to have an honest dialogue moving forward after Orlando.
We have to sincerely ask if the attempts to restrict, remove and impede people from owning guns are working. It�s pretty clear that they�re not.
We must ask if terrorists are going to think twice about breaking some law when they have long-planned an execution � whether at a Riverside Christmas party or an Orlando night club. We must question if an inmate can gain access to a gun behind bars, whether legislation will really stop gangs from getting �street� weapons.
And we have to ask why we are passing laws that affect only one subsection of society: the law-abiding.
Statistics alone provide a biased – and incomplete – picture of “gun violence,” particularly when it comes to defining who is a victim. Those killed while committing a crime, whether by another criminal, the police or someone in self-defense, are not victims. The term “victims of gun violence” should be reserved for innocent lives lost because of criminal behavior. Sadly, gun control proponents have a broad definition of a “victim,” which includes cop killers and gang members – some even listing the Boston Marathon bomber as one! This may add to statistical numbers and heightened emotion, but does nothing to address the real problem.
We will put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound if we simply place restrictions on those who honor the law. The same is true if we talk about “gun violence” without addressing the problem of crime on our streets. The FBI reports that “gangs are responsible for an average of 48% of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90% in others…”
Let�s not add to the victim list because (yes, it�s true) there are far more who protect themselves with guns than those who commit crimes with one. Until we have a sincere dialogue about the real enemy � the fingers on the trigger, the hands on the suicide vest cord, the feet on car bomb pedals � the horror will continue.
Sam Paredes is the executive director of Gun Owners of California. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California.