Why California’s ‘hard’ gun laws are in jeopardy | CNN Politics

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Gun laws are not going to stop mass shootings.

California has the strictest gun laws in the country, according to advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety and The Giffords Law Center.

Those gun laws, which are under threat thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, only go so far in a country awash in guns, where there is almost no action at the federal level, and where there is so much variation in gun laws from one country to another. been to another. state and even within states.

But it would also be a mistake to look at a series of unrelated mass shootings that have spread from Southern California to Northern California in recent days and argue that all gun laws don’t work.

Thousands of Californians die from gun violence each year: 3,449 in 2020, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a heartbreaking number. But California also has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country: 8.5 per 100,000 people, according to CDC figures.

California’s firearm homicide rate (3.9 per 100,000) is lower than the Texas rate (6.1 per 100,000), according to data compiled by Everytown. Much of what stricter gun laws seem to reduce is suicide. Gun-related suicides fell in California between 2011 and 2020. They rose in Texas and most of the country.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was already considering even more gun control measures before these shootings, had strong words about how the federal government and the Supreme Court are hindering his efforts.

“The Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact,” Newsom told CBS News, adding that he supports a sensible right to bear arms. “I have no ideological opposition to someone who reasonably and responsibly owns firearms and gets background checks and is trained and makes sure they are locked up so their child doesn’t accidentally shoot themselves or a loved one.” .

He said that all countries have mental health problems, but only the United States has a consistent problem of mass shootings.

“There is a pattern here in the United States of America, these mass shootings, that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world,” he said, arguing that perhaps security activists should focus more on high-capacity clips. “Just crazy. There is no justification. Period. Full stop,” he said.

Acknowledging that gun rights activists might see his efforts to push through new laws as restrictions on their freedom, Newsom preemptively pushed back.

“I just want to remove the weapons of war that are illegal on the streets of California and should be illegal throughout the United States,” he said.

The problem for Newsom and anyone else seeking new gun laws is that a recent Supreme Court decision has already struck down all existing gun laws, including California’s ban on high-capacity magazines that Newsom mentioned.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed wrote about this in October. In a landmark Supreme Court case decided last June, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, conservative justices led by Justice Clarence Thomas created a new standard for state gun laws.

“Thomas said that the only regulations that can be considered constitutional are those (that) do not encroach on conduct clearly covered by the text of the Second Amendment and that are ‘consistent with the historical tradition of this nation,’ which means that they are paralleled in the type of regulations in effect at the time the Constitution was drafted.” Sneed wrote.

Gun rights advocates have used that ruling to challenge gun laws in states across the country, especially California.

The judges also sent back to lower courts a challenge to the ban on high-capacity magazines that California voters approved in 2016. Thus, California’s gun laws are very much in jeopardy.

Clearly, the laws did not stop the recent shootings A gun was taken from the Monterey Park shooter on Saturday in a The second location in nearby Alhambra was not legal in California, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

In the Half Moon Bay shooting Monday, authorities said the semi-automatic handgun it was legally registered in the suspect’s name and nothing about his past indicated a red flag.

Stephen Gutowski is founder of The Reload, an independent publication, and an analyst for CNN’s “Guns in America.” He listed some of the gun control measures that are already in place in California, making it the state with the strictest gun laws.

gutowski: California passed the nation’s first “assault weapons” ban in 1989 and has been continually updating it ever since. Its current iteration is the strictest in the country. The same goes for journal limits, which were passed in 2000.

The state went further than most when it passed a ban on possession of previously protected magazines in 2016. Although that has been blocked by the courts since then in a case called Duncan v. calf.

California also has a licensing system for the purchase of guns and ammunition. Prohibits the sale of most handguns that do not have a magazine safety or loaded chamber indicator. It also effectively bans nearly all pistols made after 2013 by requiring that they include “micro-stamping” technology, which no gun manufacturer in the world actually offers.

Gutowski expects California to enact more laws, but also for those laws to face trouble in the courts, particularly after the Bruen Supreme Court decision.

For The Reload, Gutowski recently wrote about how gun advocates in Tennessee and Texas were able to beat age restrictions on people under 21 carrying firearms.

shared some of his thoughts with CNN about how these recent shootings could affect California gun laws.

gutowski: The recent attacks make new gun legislation in California more likely. But California lawmakers pass new gun restrictions every year regardless. They were already working on a new law restricting the carrying of guns following the Bruen Supreme Court decision before these shootings occurred.

While the state will likely pass new restrictions, it’s even more likely that California will be forced to drop some of its current gun laws due to federal litigation. Almost all of their gun laws are from the last 40 years or so. The standard set by the Supreme Court in Bruen requires that modern gun laws be rooted in historical tradition and have analogies (though not identical coincidences) going back to the time of the founding.

There are dozens of cases against the various state restrictions going on right now, and the court just struck down and remanded the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding the state’s magazine ban in Duncan v. calf.

Another “Guns in America” ​​analyst is Jennifer Mascia, a senior news writer and founding staff member. of the Trace.

His analysis is that any state in the US will have trouble reducing gun violence when there are so many guns in the US.

Massia: As strict as California’s gun laws are, it’s still easier to get guns there than it is in Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. The United States began regulating access to weapons when we already had millions of weapons in circulation. Other countries didn’t do that, so they don’t have this problem.

But here the gun lobby has tremendous influence, and the gun companies just want to keep selling guns. And they have: Our gun laws have been weakened considerably over the past 30 years, thanks to lobbying by the gun industry.

Half of the states have permit-less rides. So where are the gun companies in all of this? This is also a story of corporate responsibility. They can set security standards themselves if they wanted to, but they’re not.

California gun laws also end at California state lines. Several mass shooters in recent years have obtained weapons from Nevada. Gun violence experts and law enforcement sources I’ve spoken to in recent days say the same thing: It’s almost impossible to completely eradicate this violence when there are 400 million guns in circulation.

And mass shooters often don’t display behavior that rises to the level of a gun ban. That’s a high bar: involuntary mental health commitment, a felony, or a domestic violence conviction. California has a system for taking guns from legal gun owners that are banned due to a crime, the Armed Banned Persons System, but there’s a backlog.

The bottom line: This is what happens when you don’t have a strong federal gun regulation system. Weapons have a useful life of 100 years. If we banned them tomorrow, we’d still have gun violence for generations.

What we need is an all hands approach involving gun companies, public health experts and gun owners deciding that this violence is not sustainable and that the time has come to set safety standards.

Until we all decide as a culture that we’ve had enough, this will continue, and the gun companies will continue to profit from this bloodshed.

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