SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) shared a poster with every Capitol office listing more than 900 names of gun death victims in California since the Newtown Shooting last December. It has been nine months since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the lives of 27 innocent children and adults. That horrific event tore apart a community and country, reminding us of the dangerous consequences of letting firearms and ammunition fall into the wrong hands. While the memory of the Newtown shooting may be fading for some, this list is a reminder that gun violence is a daily painful occurrence for families across California.
“All too often we look at policy from a 30,000 foot level. Mass shootings may be uncommon events, but daily gun violence is commonplace,” Senator De León said. “This is true not just for families in my district, but for parents throughout the state who suffer the same heartbreaking loss the Newtown families suffered, every day. In memory of the hundreds of individuals who have fallen victim to gun violence, I will be placing this list on my office door and my website and I invite you to post it as well. This list is a reminder that gun violence is not an abstract idea, but a real epidemic that plagues the lives of Californians on a daily basis.”
Just this past weekend the Associated Press reported that 6-year-old Tiana Ricks was shot dead at a family party in Riverside County. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that 7-year-old Desirae Macias had to be taken off life support after she was caught in a car-to-car shooting in Palmdale, CA. The Los Angeles Times also published a story on September 7, 2013 regarding the 49th street massacre where an uncle in an effort to protect his nephews ultimately sacrificed his own life in an attempt to protect the brothers. These are examples of the horrific tragedies that strike our communities every week.
In California, proactive legislative efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals have led to a dramatic decrease in gun violence over the last 20 years. However, as evidenced by the attached list, gun violence continues to be all too prevalent, particularly among youth of color. The list includes the names of more than 900 people whose deaths were reported in the media from December 2012 to August 2013. Estimates indicate that the real number is much higher, as not all gun deaths are reported in the news.
Police Chiefs from all areas of California are seeing gun deaths tear apart our communities all too regularly. That is why the California Police Chiefs Association is in strong support of SB 53 (De León) Felon Check: Ammunition Safe Sales System, a measure which would require all ammunition purchasers to pass a background check. “If this new law prevents just one tragedy it will be worth it,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. “I applaud Senator De León and the co-authors for applying great common sense with SB 53. We have laws that prohibit violent offenders from possessing firearms and yet there is no provision for preventing these same dangerous individuals from legally purchasing ammunition. This new law will remedy that flaw statewide and help to enhance the safety of our Communities,” Beck concluded.
“This bill will not only enhance the safety of our citizens in Los Angeles, but it will surely improve public safety for communities throughout California,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.
Gun violence incidents have tragically affected so many lives in this country and the gun lobby has only increased its pressure on politicians to look the other way when it comes to responsible regulation. Several community groups are heavily engaged in legislative and community efforts to stem the violence.
"With 6,000 Californians still being shot every year, doing nothing is not an option," said Dr. Dallas Stout, President of the California Brady Campaign Chapters. “Keeping dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands remains a top-priority for us, including closing loopholes in the current law that allow criminals to buy ammunition without a background check.”
"We applaud Senator De León for his ongoing leadership in this area," said Juliet Leftwich, Legal Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national organization formed in the wake of the 101 California Street assault weapons massacre in San Francisco. "The State of California, like most states, currently has no idea who is selling or buying ammunition, making it far too easy for convicted felons and other dangerous individuals to commit acts of gun violence. SB 53 will close this loophole in state law and help make all Californians safer."
Californians are strongly in favor of keeping ammunition out of the wrong hands according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll released earlier this year conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint. A clear majority, 79 percent and an overwhelming majority of gun owners, 66 percent want to require ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks.
For the sake of our children and the memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, it's time for an honest and rationale debate on gun and ammunition safety and how to keep ammunition out of the hands of criminals. We must prioritize making our neighborhoods safer and focus on policies that will stop the senseless killings we’re suffering daily across the state.
*This list represents only the number of gun deaths reported by the media in California. Using the most recent CDC estimates for yearly deaths by guns in the U.S., it is likely that roughly 21,982 people have died from guns in the country since the Newtown shootings. This data was collected by Slate, a daily online magazine, in partnership with @GunDeaths.
Associated Press Article on the Riverside Shooting: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/sep/08/girl-6-dies-dad-hurt-in-riverside-area-shooting/
Los Angeles Times Article on the Palmdale Shooting: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-palmdale-girl-shot-in-head-20130904,0,6027032.story
Los Angeles Times Article on the 49th Street Massacre: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-slain-uncle-drew-bullets-away-from-nephew-in-49th-street-massacre-20130907,0,2354183.story