This summer the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown did something remarkable: They approved $5 million of taxpayers’ funds over five years to create the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center.
We applauded the start of such a center at UC Davis because we believed strong steps must be taken to end the gun violence epidemic that has a maddening and deadly grip on our country.
As we wrote in a July 11 editorial: “California, with its years of leadership on gun laws and data collection, is in a unique position to lead that discussion – and to have it be based on facts, not rhetoric.”
Another landmark event occurred this summer. Gov. Jerry Brown approved seven of the 12 gun control bills sent to him by the Legislature. This legislation:
▪ Expanded California’s decades-old ban on assault weapons.
▪ Regulated ammunition sales and subjected people who buy ammunition to a background check.
▪ Banned the sale of semi-automatic rifles with magazines that can quickly be detached by pressing a button.
▪ Banned possession of high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
▪ And required anyone who manufactures or assembles a homemade firearm to apply for a unique serial number or other marking from the state Department of Justice, which must be affixed to the weapon.
Now, on the Nov. 8 ballot, Proposition 63 – the “Safety for All Act” developed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – proposes to pile on more gun control measures.
Despite being a longtime advocate for sensible gun control, this editorial board recommends a “no” vote on Proposition 63.
It largely duplicates several of the laws passed by the governor and the Legislature. If approved, Proposition 63 would become part of the state Constitution, thus requiring future voter approval to tweak or eliminate gun control provisions resulting in unintended consequences.
We have other major concerns that voters should consider before voting on Proposition 63, the biggest of which is that Californians haven’t had time to judge the effectiveness of the new gun control laws on the books.
We also shouldn’t encourage publicity-seeking politicians such as Newsom, who have their eyes on higher elected office, from using the initiative process for personal gain. The ballot box should be the tool of last resort – reserved for those instances when the Legislature refuses to tackle tough issues.
That’s not the case with Proposition 63. The Legislature and the governor have shown tenacity in the face of anti-gun-control forces have continued to make California a national leader in the effort to end the mass killings of innocents.
In addition, groups such as the California Police Chiefs Association, oppose the proposition. Their reasoning is that fulfilling the proposition’s provisions will divert funding and sworn officers away from law enforcement missions that are critical to public safety. You should note that the chiefs association generally supports gun control. It says that Proposition 63 “undoes many of the quality laws (police chiefs) helped enact.”
Finally, the best laws are based on research and compilation of accurate data, not emotion or the guesses of certain politicians. We should let the experts at the UC Firearm Violence Research Center do their work and proceed from there before passing more gun control measures.
The center’s first project, according to its director, Garen Wintemute, will be a survey that looks at who owns guns, why they own them and how they use firearms. Wintemute, a nationally respected expert on gun violence, said a survey of this kind hasn’t been conducted since the mid-1970s.
Such information will prove invaluable in efforts to keep citizens safe while protecting the Second Amendment rights of the many Californians who are responsible gun owners.
After you examine all the issues, it should be apparent that Proposition 63 deserves a “no” vote.