‘Congress must take action’: California lawmakers call for better gun control legislation

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In the aftermath of the mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, during which 17 people were killed and 14 were hospitalized, conversation regarding gun violence has sparked in California, which continues to be at the legislative forefront of the movement to control gun violence.

Major gun control measures were implemented in July 2016 with the passage of Proposition 63 by voters in California, which mandates background checks when purchasing firearms, bans possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and establishes procedures to eradicate firearm possession among specified persons.

In an additional effort to regulate firearm transactions, California law imposes a 10-day waiting period and additional fees to fund background checks on people looking to purchase firearms. These mandates faced contention from the National Rifle Association, or NRA, but were upheld by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

UC Berkeley Human Rights Center spokesperson Andrea Lampros emphasized California’s continuous commitment to gun control laws, citing the “Gun Violence in America” series hosted by the center last year. Prop. 63, she said, is an example of California legislature that has been “incredibly effective in reducing gun violence.”

“Leading experts and thinkers (came) to Berkeley from many disciplines and vantage points — we learned California is out front on common sense policies meant to protect people from gun violence,” Lampros said in an email.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said in a statement she supports the implementation of “smart” gun laws. She added that her prosecutorial experience has shaped her views on firearm legislation.

“What I’m going to say is going to sound a bit harsh,” she said in the statement. “For years … in appreciating homicide … I got to look at autopsy photographs. When you see the effect of this extreme violence on a human body and especially the body of a child, maybe it will shock some people into understanding this cannot be a political issue. We have to be practical.”

Florida lawmakers voted down a motion to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines Tuesday, six days after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, sparking controversy among lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland and California State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the school shooting. Both legislators said they thought the responsibility for action lies within Washington D.C.

Lee said in an email that there is an urgency to pass gun control measures that will ban assault weapons, close “loopholes” and restrict ammunition sales.

“Congress must take action to address the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing too many families apart and devastating too many communities,” Lee said. “No parent should have to worry about the safety of their child while they’re attending school.”

Contact Nicholas Olivares at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nicholivares.