Los Angeles – At a news conference today at Los Angeles City Hall together with state and local leaders, Equality California announced the launch of “Safe and Equal,” a campaign to end gun violence by advocating for tougher common sense gun safety laws at the federal and state levels, among other things. Equality California is making adoption of laws to reduce gun violence and mass shootings one of its highest organizational priorities.
“LGBT people and everyone else deserve to live free from fear, but the current patchwork of laws across the country is not keeping us safe,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Too many people — in communities from Newtown to San Bernardino to Orlando — have paid the price for the inadequacy of those protections and for the inaction of Congress. It is time to enact tough federal gun safety measures and strengthen state laws to assure that another Orlando cannot occur anywhere.”
Reported LGBT homicides rose by 20 percent in the U.S. between 2014 and 2015, according to a study released this week by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Of the homicides reported last year, 62 percent were LGBT people of color.
As part of its Safe and Equal campaign, Equality California today called on Congress to immediately take up and adopt comprehensive federal gun safety legislation aimed at prohibiting military style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, closing gun show loopholes on background checks, and strengthening background checks and waiting periods to keep guns out of dangerous hands, consistent with reforms advocated by President Barack Obama.
“Last weekend, the LGBT community was the target of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history,” said Zbur. “Orlando is a call to action. Ending gun violence must be one of the LGBT community’s highest priorities. We must take every step to strengthen gun safety laws at the federal and state level to prevent another Orlando from ever happening again. Ending gun violence is also an LGBT issue because LGBT people are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Transgender women face epidemic rates of murder and violent crime. Hate crimes are on the rise throughout the United States and members of communities of color suffer the highest rates of gun violence. In the weeks and months ahead, Equality California will relentlessly work in Washington, D.C. and in Sacramento, and mobilize our 800,000 members and the LGBT community to support legislation to keep our community – and everyone – safe.”
At the state level, Equality California announced today its support for a package of gun safety legislation in California and indicated it will aggressively lobby for its passage by the legislature and signing by Governor Jerry Brown. In addition, Equality California is evaluating Safety for All, a ballot initiative backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The package of California bills supported by Equality California are part of a comprehensive gun safety reform effort to strengthen and close loopholes in California’s own gun protections.
“In light of the horrific attack in Orlando, our commitment to sensible gun reforms is strengthened and we stand arm in arm with everyone in the LGBT community,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. “We are compelled to take action and this week the legislature has demonstrated a real level of unity on the issue, with leadership in both houses focused on passing a strong package of reforms by the end of this month. We have the will and the intent to get this done and get it done right and I’m proud to have Equality California join us in this fight.”
“None of us are immune from the tragedies that guns deliver every day in communities throughout our state and nation,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “The Assembly passed a strong package of bills that cover several different aspects of gun violence. But we can’t do it alone. I believe having the strength and power and righteousness of Equality California behind this effort will absolutely help ensure the package’s success.”
The package of supported California legislation consists of:
SB 1235 (De León)/AB 156 (McCarty): would require licensing of ammunition vendors by the Department of Justice and background checks for purchasers.
SB 880 (Hall and Glazer)/AB 1664 (Levine, Ting and Chiu)/AB 1135 (Levine and Ting): would remove a loophole in assault weapon ban that allows for “bullet buttons” to easily facilitate changing magazines.
AB 1446 (Hancock): would ban possession of large-capacity magazines, limits ammunition sales to licensed vendors, and requires collection of certain information about ammunition sales, similar to procedures in place for sales of firearms themselves.
SB 1407 (De León)/AB 857 (Cooper): would close loophole allowing for manufacture or possession of “ghost guns” without first obtaining a government-issued serial number.
SB 894 (Jackson): would require anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to notify local law enforcement within five days of the loss.
AB 1176 (Cooper): would restore felony charges for buying or receiving a stolen firearm that were in place prior to voter approval of Proposition 47.
AB 1511 (Santiago and Chiu): would limit the loan of firearms to immediate family, or to a licensed hunter whom the owner knows personally.
AB 1673 (Gipson): closes loophole allowing for sale of “ghost guns,” or gun parts and components that can be easily reassembled.
AB 1674 (Santiago): would limit the purchase of long guns to one per month, aligning the regulation for hand gun purchases.
AB 1695 (Bonta): would stop illegal “straw” purchases, the practice of legally buying a gun and then reselling it to someone unable to legally purchase a firearm.
AB 2607 (Ting): allows mental health professionals, employers or coworkers to seek retraining orders to prevent high risk individuals from obtaining firearms.
Permanent funding of the Armed & Prohibited Persons System (APPS): would permanently fund additional Department of Justice officials to reduce a substantial APPS case backlog. The system maintains a database of persons prohibited from possessing firearms.
Funding to establish the California Firearm Violence Research Center: would fund a center for research into firearm-related violence with the goal of developing policies and programs for addressing gun violence. Advanced by Senator Lois Wolk and passed by the Legislature on Thursday as part of the state budget, this funding now awaits the Governor’s action.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBT civil rights organization with over 800,000 members and significant legislative and electoral programs. As part of its Safe and Equal campaign, Equality California will work to mobilize its members and other LGBT organizations and leaders, and progressive and business partners to support legislative and electoral efforts to address gun violence. Equality California also joined over 100 local LGBT centers and other LGBT organization’s across the country who signed an open letter pledging support for tougher gun safety laws, and that are using #DisarmHate to coordinate their activities.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org