President Obama hit the ground running in 2016, renewing his initiative to implement what he calls “common sense gun laws.” Though the President’s recent executive actions mirror laws that California has been implementing for years, they will have an effect on gun violence in the Golden State.
Past attempts by the President to push for gun reform have been met with strong opposition by Republicans in congress and members of the pro-gun lobby, and rightfully so. Since it’s not the responsibility of the executive to write legislation, he has no business addressing an issue that most Americans feel should be left to congress.
As the Republicans hold a majority in both houses of congress, the President has thankfully been left with few options to effectively pursue gun reform.
In his first radio address of 2016, the president announced he would be meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey to discuss what options were available for executive action on gun control.
According to Vice News, the White House had spent the better part of December researching the issue and what measures could be taken at a federal level to reduce gun violence.
California already boasts some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet last month fell victim to the deadliest terror attack since 9/11. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) determined the handguns and two assault rifles used in the attack were purchased legally under California state law.
The president, pressured by higher ups in his own party, then addressed the nation from a pulpit in the oval office for only the second time. In his address he outlined his weak and ineffective strategy to defeat ISIS but couldn’t resist politicizing the massacre and pushing for more gun control.
Despite the recent attack, gun violence in California has been in decline since the early 90s. In a recent study done by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the number of Californians that were killed by gunfire dropped from 5,500 in 1993 to 2,935 in 2010. That’s a decrease of 56% in 25 years.
Even though California has extremely strict gun laws, some neighboring states do not share gun laws of the same caliber. States like Arizona, Nevada, and Texas do not yet require universal background checks under their state law.
An Attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Ari Freilich, spoke to the San Bernardino Sun and said that, “states with weak gun laws and no (universal) background check requirements are a major source of crime guns here in California.”
There is little more that can be done to prevent this as under California state law you must register any firearm with the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms within 60 days of bringing it into the state and a portion of guns sold in other states are already illegal here in California.
“Though California law regulates the importation of firearms from out-of-state, unscrupulous individuals can too easily obtain firearms in neighboring states without a background check and bring those firearms into California,” Feilich said.
The President’s executive actions address some of the loopholes that are allowing “unscrupulous individuals” to obtain and bring out-of-state guns into California so easily.
According to Forbes magazine, under Obama’s recent executive actions, the ATF is requiring anyone selling a firearm to conduct background checks. The FBI is also making changes to their background check system to allow for 24/7 background check processing and improving notification of local law enforcement when a disqualified individual attempts to purchase a firearm.
Forbes also reported that the Attorney General sent a letter to states emphasizing the need for receiving complete criminal history records, information on persons disqualified for mental health reasons, and crimes relating to domestic violence.
Although the President’s executive actions will stem the flow of firearms into California from states that previously didn’t require universal background checks, it won’t be as considerable as Felich might hope.
Of the 21,267 firearms used in gun crimes that could be traced, the Sun reported only 2,452 (11 percent) were first sold in Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
The supply of firearms has a strong correlation with the rate at which gun violence fluctuates, but strict gun laws in California have done little to stifle gun ownership. The increased control does not have nearly the same effect on the gun market as it might on other markets with as scrupulous regulations.
Calgunlaws.com publicized figures from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that show gun purchases in California have increased 250 since 2008. The DOJ also reported that during the same time, crime dropped 23 percent, rape fell 33 percent, murder fell 24 percent, aggravated assault fell 20 percent, and even firearm homicide dropped 19 percent.
Those percentages far outweigh the 11 percent per year decrease of out-of-state guns coming into California.
The announcement of the president’s executive actions had an interesting effect on firearm purchases around the country and here in California. Nolan Sands, the general manager of the Scotts Valley firearms retailer, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that Obama’s speech helped his business.
“Literally five minutes after he finished talking, my store was packed,” Sands said. “The direct relation as to when he talks and us getting busy is impeccable.”
Some Americans are actually afraid of the president. That’s why firearm sales go up any time he addresses gun control. The second amendment was put in the Constitution for more than protecting Americans right to hunt or protect their home.
The original framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure that the people always had a way to defend themselves from an oppressive government. When the president takes it upon himself to act unilaterally towards firearms, it fans the flames of fear among a group of people who already feel underrepresented in their government and marginalized in the media.
Fox Business reported that firearms companies stocks were some of the few that continued to rise during the recent stock market crash and that historically any attempt by the White House to implement new firearm restrictions has caused gun sales to skyrocket.
The president will have you believe that the best way to lower crime and gun deaths is more firearm legislation, but that is not true. Evidence shows that gun ownership is the biggest deterrent and law enforcement agencies around the nation strongly encourage gun ownership.
Breitbart News reported that the police chief of Detroit, James Craig, has been urging residents in the city to arm themselves for self-defense for the past two years. The sheriff of Maricopa Arizona, Joe Arpaio, is encouraging people in Arizona to carry guns more regularly after the a number of mass shootings across the nation in 2015.
Arpaio said that armed citizens can take out the bad guys “before the cops arrive.”
Contrary to the fears of many gun advocates the President’s executive actions strengthen gun ownership and do a great deal to keep guns out of the wrong hands. California gun control advocates and gun enthusiasts can sleep soundly knowing that gun ownership has never been higher and gun crime has never been lower.