By: Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director
President Trump’s response to the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – blaming school administrators for inadequate safety preparation, the FBI for its focus on the Russia investigations instead of school safety, gangs like M-13 (even though the shooter was an expelled student with a legally-purchased assault weapon), and the mentally ill (whom he called a “sicko guy”) – was as predictable as it was outrageous.
The obvious cause of mass shootings is the mass proliferation of military style assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
California Has Some of the Toughest Gun Laws in the Nation
In the wake of the 2016 shootings at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando which took the lives of 49 people, and mindful that LGBTQ people suffer disproportionately from gun violence, Equality California endorsed Proposition 63 — the “Safety for All” ballot initiative backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as well as a package of gun safety legislation backed by the Senate Pro Tem and other legislative leaders.
Our multi-pronged “Safe and Equal” campaign to end gun violence was centered on advocating for tougher gun safety laws at the state level:
Keeping Guns from Dangerous Criminals: California has a clear firearms relinquishment process for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, and clarifies the law to ensure that theft of a gun is a felony.
Reporting Lost or Stolen Guns and Ammunition: California firearms dealers must report lost or stolen ammunition and gun owners are required to notify law enforcement if their firearm has been lost or stolen.
Sharing Data with Federal System on Prohibited People: Effective background checks were mandated by ensuring that California share data with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Treating Ammunition Sales Like Gun Sales: As of January 1, 2018, ammunition vendors are required to be licensed and firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks on employees.
Requiring Point-of-Sale Background Checks: California is the first state to require background checks at point of sale. People convicted of a felony, a violent misdemeanor, have a restraining order, or been declared dangerously mentally ill are no longer be able to buy ammunition in California.
Prohibiting Possession of Large-Capacity Military-Style Magazines: Possession of large-capacity magazines of 11 rounds or more is outlawed and there are provisions for their legal disposal.
Federal Gun Violence Prevention Laws are Essential
Commonsense federal gun safety proposals are even more critical today but have gone nowhere — even though hundreds of students have been shot since 2014, when 20 kindergarteners were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Trump’s proposal to arm teachers and even offer them a “little bit of a bonus” is bizarre as it is impractical — accidental shootings, suicides and armed threats become lethal when guns are present. Guns do not belong on school campuses, except in the hands of trained law enforcement. Even so, an armed deputy hid instead of entering the Parkland school to confront the shooter who far outgunned him.
In the face of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) stranglehold on elected officials across the political spectrum and the government’s professed helplessness, Equality California applauds the courage, tenacity, and the full-throated roar from young people in Florida and across the country who are demanding gun violence prevention.
Emma Gonzales, a senior who survived the school shootings last week, issued a powerful call for change at a massive rally, “All these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.” A bisexual and the president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Gonzales called “BS” on the NRA and the weak responses by the Trump Administration and Congress.
We agree. Mouthing “thoughts and prayers” and blaming other factors and institutions is indeed ‘BS.’
We stand with the students in Parkland, Florida and across the country and call on America’s elected representatives to get these guns out of circulation. Equality California supports the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER to walk-out of school on March 14 and will participate in the “March for Our Lives” on March 24 in Washington, D.C.