Yes, California has the most restrictive gun control laws in the country; and yes Gov. Jerry Brown signed six gun-control measures. But all of our work falls woefully short of what must be done to curb the epidemic of gun violence in California and the U.S.
Let’s face it. Our foes are formidable: Though contributions by the National Rifle Association (NRA) fell sharply last year – no doubt due to a popularity problem over mass shootings – their lobbying power still influences policy. With their allies in Congress and the White House, these domestic arms dealers are never less than brazen. In 2017, Republicans in the House voted to repeal an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
We must harness the groundswell of growing progressive activism and continue our demand for sensible gun safety laws both here in California and nationally. We need to curb the black market for guns. We must tell hard truths about the masterful way the gun lobby has supplanted any rational and sensible regulation with fear around being able to own a firearm at all.
For those of us in non-urban communities who need guns to protect livestock and live a rural life, we must not let ourselves be fooled by purveyors of lies. Republicans use “patriotism” “freedom” and “liberties” as dog whistles, serving their corporate gun producers parading around as a hunter’s association. Firearms and ammunition contributed a total of nearly $43 billion to the economy in 2014 – it’s about profits, not freedom, as they claim.
And while most of the attention focuses on machine guns and assault weapons, it’s the ordinary handguns that do most of the killing. The numbers of gun deaths are staggering: each year, over well over 35,000 people die from gun violence in the U.S., over 2700 of those children and teens. Every day, approximately 100 people are killed with guns, 8 of those being children or teens. These are human beings – not statistics. These are senseless deaths. Gun advocates are ruthless. We must be unrelenting in our pursuit to implement smart and sensible gun laws.