Op-ed by Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
So, when regulating guns looks like it saves lives, why would parents and adults in America resist the regulations?
A new state-by-state analysis by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has the State of California ranking first in gun laws and seventh in the nation in gun deaths.
Observers say that a new laws going into effect in January will likely put California in first place in both categories – best laws and fewest deaths.
Historically, West Hollywood, which ironically looks like a hand gun on a map, led the way in saving lives by regulating guns when, in 1998, the city became the first in the nation to ban ‘Saturday Night Specials.’
Additionally, council member Paul Koretz, who went on to become an Assembly member for the district and is now serving as a council member in Los Angeles, wrote the first ban on semi-automatic assault rifles for West Hollywood.
That ban caught fire statewide and would soon afterward be adopted statewide, get challenged by the NRA and survive that Supreme Court hearing.
What the Brady report does show, along with California’s getting a gold star, is a direct correlation between gun laws and safety. States with more and better regulation of guns saw far fewer casualties from guns.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence report, seven of the 10 states with the strongest gun laws in 2013 also had the lowest rate of gun deaths: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.
As one might expect, most of the states with the weakest gun laws also had the highest gun-death rates: Arkansas; Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama; Tennessee; Montana; Wyoming; Nevada; Arizona and New Mexico.
So when the NRA declares that “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” how far wrong (or right) are they?
Gun advocates say it’s difficult to show a direction causation between more gun regulations and fewer gun deaths; gun safety advocates say something like, “If it looks like… walks like… acts like… it must be a…”
The NRA posted on July 18 an article with this lede:
“Gun control activists have repeatedly used national tragedies to try to push their agenda. They use grieving victims to invoke an emotional response and spread misinformation falsely claiming that enacting their agenda would have prevented these tragedies and will prevent future tragedies.”
Later in that article, the NRA ghost writer says, “The anti-Second Amendment agenda being pushed… will not prevent these tragedies from occurring. It’s clear that their agenda is not to make children safer or prevent tragedies, but to enact an extreme anti-gun agenda.
So the gun merchants (NRA’s primary source of support) don’t really care about your kids and probably live in California anyway; they just hope to keep selling guns.
This new data, though, helps to show the lie that underlies their argument, that rules are an encroachment on rights and that if exercising those rights costs lives, so be it. It demonstrates, rather, than looking at how guns best fit into Twenty-First Century America, the NRA and gun advocates would claim radical standards never before seen in the country’s history, such as open carry laws allowing guns in bars, restaurants and churches.
West Hollywood has a history of dealing with issues of violence or harm to its residents that eventually find their way around the world.
In 2007, Assembly member Mike Feuer introduced a bill that required that all semiautomatic handguns manufactured and sold in California be equipped with micro stamping technology.
Micro stamping uses powerful lasers to make extremely precise engravings on the firing pin and breech plate of a handgun. These engravings leave the impressions on each spent shell casing that are specific to the gun from which a bullet has been fired.
That bill was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger later that year, and has been amended to also include safety features like loaded chamber indicators and to meet specified drop safety tests. It goes into effect in January.
However, there is a loophole associated with the law, called “Unsafe Handgun Law.” The law exempted single shot handguns, a loophole that let gun dealers skirt regulations by selling semi-automatic weapons altered to fire one shot.
Converting the weapons to semi-automatic fire is an easy matter.
The new law removes the exemption for altered semiautomatics, affecting as many as 18,000 purchases.
Another new law that will save lives in California is one which would require courts to notify the state’s Department of Justice if a person’s mental status would bar him or her from possessing a gun under California law within one day.
The change from two-day reporting is expected to prevent missing or never completed reports and help to sift through people seeking to hold guns for the mentally disturbed. The Sacramento Bee says that number now stands at 2,300 over the 2010-20 period.
Let’s hope that the world starts using data and reasoning to make its political decisions about guns instead of the hard-right’s belief based method.
Because I believe there are more of us non-gun owners who think the country has had enough unnecessary tragedy at the tip of a bullet.