Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
Gun Safety a Big Issue on California Ballot
August 16, 2016 at 6:24 pm

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By Karen Ocamb, contributing journalist

Politicos on both sides of the partisan divide are wondering how presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will confront each other in their first debate on Monday, Sept. 23 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Surely the issue of gun safety will come up, if only in connection to Trump “joking” about “Second Amendment people”  responding to Clinton getting to nominate Supreme Court Justices if she wins the election in November.

Meanwhile, Congress returns from an unusually long summer recess on Sept. 6, but is not expected to take up any gun safety measures, despite the angst over a terrorist being able to get a gun without trouble and shooting up the gay Orlando nightclub Pulse in the worst mass shooting in US history, as well as the subsequent shootings of Dallas police protecting a protest march. With many believing that Republican lawmakers are virtually in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, little is expected during their short presence in the House and Senate before the leave to campaign again before the elections.

So that means gun safety is left up to the states. And while California legislators, led be Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, passed a package of bills related to gun safety with active support and lobbying from Equality California in June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed six and vetoed five, saying in a message that he wanted to “enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Perhaps mindful of the fortunes of this particular political war, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a campaign to put Prop 63, “The Safety For All Act of 2016”  on the November ballot. Let “the people” who say they want gun regulation vote for it. And on Tuesday, Aug. 16, Equality California announced its support for the initiative during a Facebook live joint appearance with Newsom at The Los Angeles Times building, where EQCA is headquartered. (See the announcement here. https://www.facebook.com/GavinNewsom/videos/10154522688933117/)

“Orlando was a call to action and a reminder that ending gun violence must be a top priority for the LGBT community,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur in a follow up statement. “But even before Orlando, gun safety was an LGBT issue, because LGBT people suffer disproportionately from gun violence. Proposition 63 will help close remaining loopholes in California’s gun safety laws and help ensure that no community has to suffer another Orlando, San Bernardino or Newtown.”

Equality California is asking people to sign a pledge to vote for Prop 63.

“It is vital for our state to come together on this important issue, and I am so glad to have Equality California join the Proposition 63 campaign as an endorser and as a key leader in the LGBT community,” said Newsom, known for his historic blessing of marriage equality in 2004. “More than 32,000 Americans are killed every year due to gun violence, and the LGBT community is disproportionately targeted. The result is the massacre we saw in Orlando. This is an epidemic that is preventable and with strong leaders and organizations coming together we can make our communities safe again.”

Equality California, which has made gun safety a top priority for the statewide LGBT lobbying organization through its #SafeAndEqual campaign, joins Newsom and scores of others in endorsing Prop 63, including: initiative co-author The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the California Democratic Party, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Speaker Emeritus of the Assembly Toni Atkins, Speaker Emeritus of the Assembly John Pérez, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney George Gascon, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Belvedere, Berkeley, Cupertino, East Palo Alto, Oakland, Tiburon and West Hollywood, SEIU, California Medical Association, California American College of Emergency Physicians, California American College of Physicians, California Federation of Teachers, California League of Women Voters, California Young Democrats, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Courage Campaign, Emergency Response Doctors, Rabbis Against Gun Violence, Southern California Public Health Association, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Women Against Gun Violence.

Here’s a spot in which Newsom explains the measure: https://youtu.be/mvIFgi4VI5E

Read the full Proposition 63 initiative here. In the meantime, here are some key provisions:

Keeping Guns from Dangerous Criminals: Provides 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 – of any value – is a felony, which prohibits the thief from owning firearms.

Reporting Lost or Stolen Guns and Ammunition: Requires firearms dealers to report lost or stolen ammunition. Requires gun owners to notify law enforcement if their firearm has been lost or stolen.  California would join the city of Sacramento and 11 other states that require lost or stolen firearm reporting.

Shares Data with Federal System on Prohibited People: Assures effective background checks by mandating that California share data with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICS).

Treating Ammunition Sales Like Gun Sales: Requires licensing of ammunition vendors and requires firearms dealers to conduct background checks on employees by January 1, 2018.  Requires point-of-sale background checks for ammunition purchases.  If a person is convicted of a felony, a violent misdemeanor, has a restraining order or has been declared dangerously mentally ill, they will no longer be able to buy ammunition in California. California would be the first state to require background checks at point of sale.

Prohibiting Possession of Large-Capacity Military-Style Magazines: Outlaws possession of large-capacity magazines of 11 rounds or more and provides for their legal disposal. California would join New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and the District of Columbia in banning possession of these military-style clips.

The initiative also allows the legislature to amend provisions within the Safety for All Act:

“This Act shall be broadly construed to accomplish its purposes. The provisions of this measure may be amended by a vote of 55 percent of the members of each house of the Legislature and signed by the Governor so long as such amendments are consistent with and further the intent of this Act.”

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