I am convinced that each state in this country can take it upon itself to address gun violence and I am very pleased to share what I have learned about California. The following information regarding the manner in which this state has stepped up to the gun violence issue and dealt with it is encouraging.
According to the Office of the Governor’s website and the fact sheet reporting on California’s gun safety policies, the following can be said about them. “In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5-gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas. California’s gun death rate for children is also lower than other states and is 58% lower than the national average.” This did not result from simply having thoughts and prayers after shootings, but from taking action and putting laws and changes into practice that resulted in changes.
They dealt with assault weapons. “California law strictly prohibits assault weapons and passed the following Red Flag Law. California became one of the first states in the nation to enact a red flag law in 2016. California law allows law enforcement, family members, employers, coworkers, and school employees to file a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) against an individual suspected of being a danger to themselves and others. The GVRO prohibits such a person from possessing firearms.”
“They enacted the following additional constraints which could provide a model for the entire country as a way to deal with guns: Waiting Period: California has a waiting period of 10 days for all gun purchases. Universal Background Checks: California requires background checks on all gun purchases and transfers, including private transfers and sales at gun shows. Mental Health Reporting: California has some of the nation’s strongest laws preventing those with serious mental illness from acquiring firearms. California law requires the immediate reporting of involuntary inpatient and outpatient treatment, as well as those under guardianship. Mental health treatment facilities and psychotherapists are also required to report under certain circumstances. Age Restrictions: In California, you must be at least 21 years of age to purchase a handgun and at least 18 years of age to purchase a long gun.”
Governor Newsome and the legislature have committed to the promise to continue working together to reduce gun violence. The work that they have done and the manner in which they have curbed gun violence in the state thus far need to be noted as a way forward for any state who wishes to move ahead. There is no reason to have to wait for a national mandate when states can act. We may have more success as citizens working within our respective states than continuing to try to move national congressional leadership to a place that appears impossible for them to inhabit.
Finally, it is important to note that we are not without ways to address this issue of guns and violence if we can find the courage to do so. Thank You California and all others who have found the courage to act and who continue to seek more ways to save lives by managing guns better.