[Assemblyman Scott Wilk] – President Obama unveiled a comprehensive gun control reform package last month after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left 26 dead. President Obama asked Congress to implement a host of changes including mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, reinstating a ban on some assault-style weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, and improving mental health care around the country.
When comparing the president’s proposals to California’s existing gun and mental health laws it is surprising to learn how much California already does.
In his proposal President Obama asked to:
“Require background checks for all gun sales.”
California already does that. California’s transfer laws apply to private party sales and there is no “gun show loophole” in California because those transactions are subject to current background check requirements.
“Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.”
California is already turning over all mental health information that the federal government requests.
“Make sure dangerous people are prohibited from having guns.”
California already has numerous categories of prohibited persons under current law. California prohibits, among others, all convicted felons, those convicted of specified violent misdemeanors (for 10 years) or those who have been committed to a mental facility by a court. California has one of the widest definitions of prohibited persons of any state.
“Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons.”
California already has an assault weapons ban. It bans, with exceptions, the sale, manufacture, and possession of assault weapons. It enumerates a list of weapons by brand name, make, and model and those with specified, generic characteristics.
“Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.”
It is not clear from the President’s proposal whether the “limit” will apply to manufacture and sale/transfer only or to possession as well. California already prohibits manufacture and sale of “large capacity” magazines.
“Put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.”
California has nearly 10,000 schools. If California received 12% of these officers, it would be only 120 school resource officers or counselors to be distributed amongst nearly 10,000 schools. Many California school districts already have police or security departments:
“Help schools develop and implement emergency plans.”
Since 1997, California requires each public school to adopt a Comprehensive School Safety Plan. The Department of Education provides technical assistance and training in the development of those plans, which include responses to natural disasters and to threats of violence.
“Launch a national conversation to increase understanding about mental health.”
California voters already launched a statewide conversation about mental illness through passage of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act.
Most gun owners are responsible and law-abiding, and they use their guns safely. California is already well on the way to complying with the President’s agenda.