Prop. 63: Gun control likely to pass, but has flaws

Andrew Pouliot, News Editor

Prop. 63 is a piece of gun legislation written and promoted by Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, but there isn’t much about it that promotes gun safety.
Proposition 63 is a blatant attempt at gun control, and does nothing but punish law abiding citizens, increase financial burdens on gun owners and make a weak attempt at targeting actual gun crime by making gun thefts a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
The legislation’s most notable proposal requires background checks on ammunition purchases, the first of its kind in the United States. It also makes firearm thefts a felony – regardless of the weapon’s monetary value – and bans the possession of high capacity magazines. Current California law prohibits guns from loading more than 10 rounds at a time, however, most handgun magazines typically hold 12-15 rounds, and rifle magazines up to 30.
Gun control is overwhelmingly proposed and supported by members of the Democratic Party, and is almost always an emotional knee-jerk reaction to so-called mass shootings.
According to Mother Jones, the United States had 355 mass shootings in 2015.
This number is false.
The FBI defines a mass shooting as one in which “four or more people are selected indiscriminately and killed, not counting the perpetrator, in a public setting.” While there is no widely accepted definition for a mass shooting, FBI figures typically do not include gang-related shootings, accidental firearms discharges, and shootings which kill less than four people.
By this definition, there were four mass shootings in the United States in 2015.
While gun violence has drawn outrage and frustration from the media and politicians, homicides involving guns killed less than 9,000 people in 2012, according to FBI crime statistics. Compared to the number of deaths claimed by preventable heart disease, gun crime ought to be the least of America’s worries.
Prop. 63 was engineered in response to events such as the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015 in which two Islamic terrorists killed 14 civilians at an office party with illegally-obtained rifles.
Liberal groups like Mother Jones, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have stated that 33,000 people are killed by gun violence annually, because they include firearm suicides (which numbered 15,000 in 2015) to blow up numbers and garner support for anti-constitutional legislature.
The forced background checks Prop. 63 would enact costs money – quite a bit in fact, which even then may not cover the cost of conducting the searches.
In California, one must be at least 18 years old to purchase shotguns and rifles, and 21 years old to purchase handguns.
Dealers already require safety tests to demonstrate that one can safely and responsibly handle the firearm, as well as a written test to obtain a Firearm Safety Card. Buyers must also pass abackground check conducted through the state, which takes 10 days.
The background fee is $60, but there is also a $35 processing fee. After clearing the background check, one can pick up their purchased firearm from their licensed dealer.
With California’s gun culture as it is, from the impossibility of obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit, to the banning of the AR-15 rifle as of 2017, further gun control measures will do nothing to deter or limit gun crime in California.
Gun control laws only affect people who follow the law; we seem to have forgotten that gun crime is overwhelmingly committed by criminals, people who often obtain weapons illegally. Criminals will not follow any new gun control legislation.
Law enforcement and counterterrorism experts all stand in opposition to Prop 63, including the California Police Chiefs Association.
According to the association, “Prop. 63 fails to meet the balance between public safety and individual gun rights.”
“I generally oppose any legislation that puts any more restrictions on citizens having an ability to possess firearms,” San Bernardino County Sheriff and member of the California Police Chiefs Association John McMahon said.
One of Prop. 63’s provisions bans the possession of 30-round magazines; a previous measure banned the sale of said magazines but grandfathered in people who already owned such devices. California law enforcement cannot be reasonably expected to easily enforce such a draconian measure.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence argues that gun deaths in California decreased from 5,500 in 1993 to 2,935 in 2010 as a result of the enactment of stricter gun laws. However, gun deaths decreased by 50 percent nationwide over 20 years, correlating directly with a 400 percent increase in the purchase of firearms by civilians nationwide and a 250 percent increase in the issuance of concealed carry weapons permits nationwide between 1993 and 2013, according to the National Rifle Association.
A report on the Huffington Post incorrectly states that firearms are rarely used in self-defense inside the United States; the article, written by Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center, merely seeks to stick it to the National Rifle Association by falsely portraying gun crime figures and the number of instances firearms are used to stop crime.
According to a CDC study commissioned by President Obama in 2013, firearms were used an average of 2.5 million times nationally to stop robberies, rapes, assaults, and break-ins.
The report expresses uncertainty about “whether gun restrictions reduce firearm-related violence” and also that there is “no evidence suggesting right-to-carry laws increase or decrease violent crime.” The report also indicated that “proposed gun turn-in programs are ineffective.”
Prop. 63 is not the answer. The only way to fight gun crime is to empower law enforcement, and to be more educated on gun rights as a society. Everyone has a right to self-defense, and owning and using a firearm is still a constitutional right.