I consider myself so fortunate to have lived in California my entire life. We've got it all here: Great weather; gorgeous beaches, deserts, and forests; an innovative, creative, and inclusive population; you name it, we've got it.
And we are often trendsetters for the entire country on such things as environmental regulation and to get to my point, according to many experts, California's firearms regulations are the toughest in the nation.
Michael Hiltzik's L.A. Times column today concentrates on "taking aim at the gun industry." He notes that, despite our tough laws, more than 600,000 hand guns, rifles, and shotguns were sold here in 2011 (the most recent year stats were made available). In addition, even though California has such strict laws, it is still one of the country's major gun markets. And here's another fact: Our background checks ended up denying a measly 1% of all applicants, so what's all the fuss about?
Speaking of stats, here's one that will likely make gun zealots' heads explode:
Consider the most important statistic related to California's gun laws. In 1981, before the most stringent rules were adopted, California's rate of 16.5 firearms-related deaths per 100,000 population was 31st worst in the nation and higher than the national average; by 2000, a decade after the laws started getting tightened, the state ranked 20th, with a rate of 9.18, below the national average. In 2010, the latest year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers figures, the state ranked ninth, with a rate of only 7.9.
Yeah, that really happened, and freedom and liberty are still intact, nobody's guns were yanked from their cold, dead hands, nor did Big Guvmint infringe on anyone's Second Amendment rights. Go figure.
And this is a big, diverse state with not inconsiderable pockets of gang lawlessness and drug abuse, and sizable populations of hunters, target shooters and other gun fanciers. Many factors may have contributed to the downward trend in firearm deaths since 1990, but the numbers strongly indicate that regulation works.
California's hostility to guns is focused mainly on assault weapons, which are outlawed — all others are legal, but regulated. The assault weapons ban is being extended to the makers of these dangerous products.
Today, California law requires that almost all transfers of firearms, including private deals and gun show sales, be made through a licensed dealer and completed after a waiting period. High-capacity magazines are illegal except for those owned before 2000. There's a long list of people prohibited to possess firearms, including felons and people judged to be a danger to themselves or others.
The new proposals include measures to close a loophole in the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to require a background check and a permit to buy ammunition.
As Hiltzik points out, the new proposals won't eradicate gun violence in California. No laws, guidelines, or regulations eradicate all crime, but as the statistics show, they sure can help save lives.
And isn't saving lives the goal of gun owners, too? Or is their War on Tyranny fantasy-- the one in which there is no way their Glocks and AR-15s could win against drones and bombs-- propping up the gun industry, and influencing elections more of priority that their so-called "pro-life" agenda?