--Federal laws continue to let the country down, city and county leaders must enact local ordinances
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and survivors of the shooting massacre at the Colorado movie theater, where 70 people were shot and 12 killed (as of this writing) on Jan. 20. As the community mourns and the country angrily struggles to understand why these uniquely American massacres keep happening, it is important to recognize that no one in America is immune from gun violence and to assess the public safety of our own communities.
As Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross said in a released statement: “It’s time to tell our elected lawmakers – Expressions of sympathy are not enough: We demand action!”
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates reported that officers officially found an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-guage shotgun and .40 caliber Glock handguns in the theater and car. The Chief was quoted as saying: “Colorado shooting suspect
James Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition, along with four guns, online within weeks leading up to the shooting. My understanding is all weapons he possessed, he possessed legally. All ammunition he possessed he possessed legally.”
That is an outrage! There is much more this country can do to strengthen nearly non-existent federal gun laws and prevent future massacres.
On average over 100,000 people are shot each year in America and more
than 30,000 of them die. Gun violence burdens the American public including
taxpayers with direct and indirect medical, legal, and societal costs -- estimated
to be $100 billion annually. Despite these staggering statistics, U.S. gun laws
remain the weakest of all developed nations. Contrary to what many people
think, among other things federal law does NOT:
- Outlaw the sale of assault weapons
- Impose background checks on all gun purchasers
- Require that firearm owners be licensed or register their guns
- Require firearms dealers or ammunition sellers to conduct employee background checks, implement security requirements, obtain liability insurance, and refrain from operating in residential neighborhoods or near schools, daycare centers, parks or other sensitive areas
- Impose a waiting period, allowing sufficient time for a background check and provide a “cooling off” period
We are fortunate to live in California where we have the strictest gun laws in the
country, which are helping to save lives. In 2008 (most recent data available)
California’s firearm mortality rate declined to 8.3 per 100,000, while the rest
of the country was at 10.4. Still in 2009, 6,053 people were shot in California
and 2,972 of them died. As horrible as those numbers are, they represent a steady decline in firearms deaths since in 1993 (14,135 people shot and 5,322 died) and the enactment over time of California’s strong gun laws. See CA’s gun laws here: http://smartgunlaws.org/california-state-law-summary/
However much improvement there has been, 6,000 people shot is still 6,000 too many. More can be done at the State level, such as outlawing the “bullet button” assault weapons that the gun manufacturers are using to get around California’s assault weapons ban. See Brady Campaign Bullet Button Alert
At the local level, city and county officials must step up and do their part to protect the community from gun violence. Last May, Pleasant Hill residents were shocked to learn that the City had approved a Home Occupation Business Permit for a resident to sell guns and possibly ammunition out of his home -- supposedly (but not confirmed) this would all be done over the Internet. Many officials concluded that because it was “only over the Internet,” there was no need for concern. The Internet is an unregulated black hole for weapons and ammunition sales, and we see the consequences of this now in Colorado (6,000 rounds, really?!). Those dangerous products end up somewhere. This time it was a movie theater in Aurora.
The Home Occupation Gun Dealer permit was issued with no public hearing or notification to the neighbors. When Contra Costa Brady Campaign members protested this action the City Council voted (4-1, Weir) to agendize a study session to address home occupation permits for gun dealers. This has yet to be scheduled, what are they waiting for?
This election season ask your local candidate if he/she will work to enact a local ordinance banning Home Occupation Gun Dealers. That’s the question the Contra Costa Brady Campaign will be asking. And we’ll let you know the answers.