California lawmakers have passed some of the strongest gun reform laws in the nation, but dozens of communities across the state have adopted stricter measures.
Three mass shootings in California that have killed at least 24 people in eight days have called for a strong Democratic majority in the state legislature to follow the leadership of those places in pushing for more aggressive gun control.
The latest killings have shaken residents across the Golden State, from the Los Angeles suburb dubbed America’s first “suburban Chinatown,” to a farming town in the Central Valley to coastal communities in the Bay Area.
On January 16, six people, including a young mother and baby, were shot in the head at close range by gunmen at a home in Goshen. Another gunman opened fire at a popular ballroom dancing studio in Monterey Park on Lunar New Year’s Eve, Jan. 21, killing 11 people. Less than 48 hours later, another man attacked two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, killing seven people.
At a news conference Tuesday in Half Moon Bay, San Mateo Democratic Sen. Josh Baker praised state leaders for enacting progressive policies to curb gun violence. However, he added: “When seven people are dead — innocents in our community — that doesn’t seem like much. “
“Before we get Republicans in Congress to act at the federal level, we have to go back to the drawing board in California and look at every aspect of the process — how do you get guns, how do you store guns, how do we enforce red flags How do we track down gun manufacturers and hold them accountable,” he said. “We owe it to bereaved families and to the residents of this state and country.”
Becker made the call as 2023 ushers in California’s deadliest month in mass shootings in recent memory. But overall, the state’s gun death rate is 37 percent lower than the national average, according to the Giffords Law Center. A 2019 report touted by Gov. Gavin Newsom found that gun deaths in California fell 55 percent from 1993 to 2017, as lawmakers in Sacramento moved to pass new laws to address gun violence question.
“Guns are safe and effective,” Newsom said Tuesday. “But we can’t do it alone.”
In recent years, advocates have worked with California cities and counties to pass strict gun regulations, hoping to gain momentum at the state level. Historically, progressive policies adopted locally have helped pave the way for statewide reforms.
Some of the local regulations, which are stricter than current state laws, include requiring gun retailers to videotape sales transactions, prohibiting gun dealers from operating in “sensitive areas” and establishing stricter rules for safe storage of firearms.
These are areas where California lawmakers could seek to strengthen state law, said Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at the Giffords Law Center.
“California is one of the few states where the gun lobby has been unsuccessful in convincing state lawmakers to take the power to regulate guns away from local jurisdictions,” Anderman said. “Because of this, localities in California have broad powers to pass whatever gun laws they deem necessary to keep communities safe.”
But addressing these issues at the state level may return absorb Serious legal challenge as existing laws are under threat. The Supreme Court struck down New York’s concealed carry law last June and encouraged other states to reconsider gun laws, including California’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“Whatever legislative solutions we adopt to reduce violence will ultimately be determined by the most conservative Supreme Court we’ve known in a century,” said Greg Woods, a professor in the Department of Judicial Studies at San Jose State University.
Here’s a look at some of the major gun control bills currently being proposed by California lawmakers, as well as a list of local regulations that could be the next frontier for statewide gun reform.
Stricter laws in California cities and counties
Video sales: this is the plan Preventing someone from buying a gun for another person who is prohibited from owning a gun is an illegal practice known as straw buying. A handful of Bay Area cities have adopted the rule, including San Francisco and San Jose. Walmart — America’s largest gun seller — has voluntarily videotaped gun sales since 2008.
“Sensitive areas” without dealers: The rules prohibit gun dealers from operating in certain areas of the city, such as near schools or parks frequented by children and families. More than two dozen California jurisdictions have established these zones, including Alameda County, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. Alameda County’s measure was challenged in federal court in 2017.
Strict storage practices: National law provides extensive Ask residents and gun dealers to keep guns safe. However, many places have passed more ordinances to prevent theft.for instanceState law requires that all firearms sold or transferred in California be equipped with a safety lock or be accompanied by proof that the buyer owns the safe. But there is no universal requirement for owners to use them. The city of Davis passed an ordinance last year requiring all gun owners to store their guns in locked containers or use a gun safety device when not in use.
Liability Insurance: San Jose has become the first U.S. city to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance and pay a $25 fee to a nonprofit to help pay for gun violence in the city. The rules, which are being challenged in court after a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019 that killed three people and another in a San Jose rail yard in 2021, claimed 10 lives, to encourage people to be safer own guns. Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced a bill last year to expand the mandate statewide, but it stalled in the House Appropriations Committee.
Gun control bill introduced by state lawmakers
- Improved Concealed Carry Permission: Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge will make a second attempt to strengthen California’s concealed carry laws after the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down parts of the bill in June 2022. The court’s ruling means the state no longer allows permit applicants to be required to show “good reason” to carry a firearm in public. Portantino, Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta tried last year to pass an emergency measure to back up the state’s law. It narrowly failed in the final hours of the session.
- Warning labels, harsher penalties for unserialized firearms: A Skinner bill would require warning labels on firearms sold, transferred or manufactured in California. Another measure by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) would reduce the number of “ghost guns” by making it a felony to carry a firearm with a serial number that has been altered or removed.
- Taxes on guns and ammunition, changes to the “prohibited sale list”: Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, introduced a three-bill gun control package, including a measure that would tax guns and ammunition in California. Another would allow residents to add their names to the state’s “no-sale list,” which restricts the sale of firearms to certain people. Gabriel’s office said the bill seeks to curb suicides and mass shootings by preventing people with mental illness from acquiring guns.
- Stricter ownership rules for domestic violence offenders: Another of Gabriel’s bills would make it more challenging for people facing domestic violence restraining orders to obtain guns. Currently, residents are prohibited from owning or purchasing firearms while the restraining order is in effect. The proposal extends that period to three years unless a court rules that the person is not a threat to public safety.