Has California reached an upper limit on what it can do to regulate guns?
Following a pattern as old as gun control itself, state lawmakers are responding to the back-to-back mass shootings that killed 18 people this week with more legislation:
Democratic Sens. Catherine Blakespear of Encinitas and Nancy Skinner of Oakland announced Thursday they’re introducing a first-in-the-nation proposal that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance to cover the “negligent or accidental” misuse of their firearms. If that sounds familiar, San Jose has a similar local ordinance.
- Blakespear, in a statement: “Firearms are similar to cars in that they are inherently dangerous and are in wide circulation. If a car accidentally causes injury to a person or property, the insurance policy will compensate the victim. The same approach should apply to injuries caused by guns.”
Assemblymember Laurie Davies, a San Juan Capistrano Republican, introduced a bill that would require the state Department of Justice to share all relevant information about people in the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System, a database of Californians legally barred from owning firearms, with local law enforcement agencies. Davies cited reporting by CalMatters on the system’s layered, and sometimes lethal, failures.
And earlier this week, Sen. Dave Min, a Costa Mesa Democrat who recently announced that he’s running for Congress, introduced a bill that would require all federally licensed gun sellers to take an annual training course on “responsible sales practices.”
Meanwhile, a bill to revamp the state’s concealed carry permitting system is still being ironed out after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the state’s prior one and the Legislature failed to pass a replacement last fall.
If all these bills seem to pick at the edges of the state’s gun violence problem, that might be because all the low-hanging fruit has long since been picked clean. There’s only so much more California can do on its own.
A sufficiently motivated gun buyer can easily evade state restrictions by shopping in Arizona or Nevada, where the rules are much laxer. And California’s existing gun laws are already being whittled away by a more conservative federal judiciary.
That may be why Gov. Gavin Newsom did not unveil any new state policy ideas during his visit to Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, but instead inveighed against Republicans in Congress.
- Newsom: “We can’t do this alone. And with all due respect, we feel like we are.”
On Thursday morning, a group of Democratic U.S. senators, including California’s Alex Padilla, held a press conference to respond to the recent mass shootings — but which also underscored just how unlikely new federal legislation is anytime soon.
The senators called upon the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Wee 1 Tactical, a company that produces and sells the “JR-15,” a semi-automatic rifle marketed to children. That gun also helped to inspire a new California law.
Padilla said he hopes that Congress, the GOP majority in the House notwithstanding, might still pass new gun restrictions. But not all of the Democrats were so optimistic.
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut: “We don’t need a new law. What we need is enforcement.”
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