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Commentary: How do we shift the status quo when it comes to guns?

By Cori Wilbur and Narima Lopes

Every time another mass shooting occurs in the United States; a metronome continuously gains speed it seems where one side calls for action on stricter gun laws, the other offers “thoughts and prayers” and nothing seems to change.

So, how do we actually change the status quo when it comes to guns in the United States?

The United States has a gun culture ingrained in the nation’s backbone with the Second Amendment used as an excuse to own arms. Americans make up 4% of the global population but own 46% of the global stock of firearms. The ownership of 120.5 firearms for every 100 persons in America is the highest in the world based on the United States 2017 small arms census.

The California law that empowers law enforcement to obtain Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs) was prompted by the 2014 mass shooting in Santa Barbara. San Diego has the “Red Flag” law to prevent predictable acts of gun violence and the “Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance.”

Ghost guns used in the Gaslamp shooting in San Diego are another menace as they lack serial numbers and are essentially untraceable by law enforcement.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in support of state and federal legislation that advances gun reform measures, like strict background checks. Shawn VanDiver of the Truman National Security Project says that enhancements to background checks and other strict requirements on a federal level are critical steps to resolving this issue.

California’s example for gun reform does not do much on a broader scale when its neighbors–Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and others are far behind on that front with no checkpoints at every border.”

When a mass shooting occurs, some politicians say “now is not the time for politics, we must act on gun reform.”

Of course, we want to allow those directly impacted by the tragedies to have ample time to grieve and heal, but the rest of us need to confront the issue head-on to prevent another mass shooting, and not just leave it to the victim’s families to pressure our political representatives to do the needful.

Judge Benitez’s decision to reverse the 3-decade California assault weapon ban is problematic. Liking an AR-15 rifle to a Swiss army knife is plain stupid.

The 10-year assault weapons ban signed into law by the US Congress in 1994, which included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms that were defined as assault weapons as well as certain ammunition magazines that were defined as “large-capacity” assault weapons have expired.

Senator Feinstein tried to re-introduce it, but it has not gained traction. House Resolution 8 (HR) closes the “private sales loophole” and HR 1446 closes the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows some licensed gun sales to go through before a required background check is done.

Both these bills passed the House in March 2021 with bipartisan support, however, there doesn’t appear to be majority support in the Senate.

Until we get money out of politics entirely, gun violence will remain a prominent threat to our society. We must elect representatives both in the House and Senate who are serious about gun reform and preventing gun violence.

But just like police reform, gun reform will be accomplished through an entire upheaval and rebirth of our thinking, actions and systems. Just as the tobacco industry was held responsible for the many cancer deaths, gun manufacturers should be held liable for gun violence.

Helping to pass the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act and repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) introduced by Senators Schiff and Blumenthal is the answer. No industry should be above the law especially one that produces lethal weapons.

Cori Wilbur and Narima Lopes are members of the Encinitas & North Coast Democratic Club

1 comment

EncinitasObserver June 20, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Fortunately for freedom loving Americans, the Supreme Court doesn’t care what you think. The Court has affirmed our right to free speech in politics (Citizens United) and our right to keep and bear arms (DC v Heller). As far as I know, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights are still the law of the land.

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