California's violence-plagued Oakland is determined to take a more active role in curbing crime, but local officials will first need the governor's approval to exempt the city from a state law that bans the regulation of gun ownership.
Introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) AB 180 would exempt Oakland from a California law barring city governments from regulating the registering and licensing of firearms. The bill has passed in the Legislature and is now sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk awaiting a final decision, according to a press release.
A total of 3,026 shootings this year alone, including the fatal shooting of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a sleepover in July, ranks Oakland as having the most gun crimes in the state. Local officials hope such extreme circumstances will make a case for the city's exemption from the state law.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the state does not actually require gun registration, but rather a record of sale from the dealer, who provides it to the state Department of Justice.
"AB 180 could curb this escalating problem by allowing Oakland to enact more targeted and more effective ordinances than are currently in place," Bonta said in a press release Monday.
The more targeted approach would include regularly cross-checking the registry with a state database listing people banned from owning firearms, and spotting people who frequently buy guns and may be selling them on the black market, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"We've seen that when we have information and data that we can see trends emerge," Councilwoman Libby Schaaf told the Chronicle. "Our number one focus would be to try and stop the illegal gun trafficking. By having information linked to registration and licensing, we would be able to identify straw purchasers," she said. Schaaf acknowledged to the Chronicle that such regulations would not be as effective on criminals who already possess illegal firearms.
Oakland would be the first California city awarded a waiver from the current state regulation, and the National Rifle Association has urged citizens to fight the bill's passage.
"They're going off the rails," California civil rights and firearm regulation attorney Chuck Michel said of the bill's supporters in an interview with NRA News. "This entire state is crazy." The bill, Michel contended, would allow Oakland to completely ban all firearms and set a precedent for all California cities to be exempt from the state law.
Other groups opposing the bill argued that it will only make Oakland's citizens more unsafe.
"The bill does nothing useful and is just going to make it more difficult for poor people in Oakland to defend themselves and their families," Brandon Combs, president of the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, told the Los Angeles Times.
In contrast, Chicago, another city with high rates of gun violence, lost its local authority to regulate gun licensing after a state law similar to California's was enacted. Chicago's gun registry database had helped the police better understand the city's movement of weapons as they enacted new policing strategies, The New York Times reported. Before the law was passed, Chicago’s homicide rate had decreased by 22 percent.
1981: The Attempted Assassination Of President Ronald Reagan
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
2004: Law Banning Magazines Holding More Than Ten Rounds Of Ammunition Expires
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Rules In Favor Of Dick Heller
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
2008: Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban As Unconstitutional
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>.
Gabrielle Giffords And Trayvon Martin Shootings
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">proved fruitless</a>, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/trayvon-martin" target="_hplink">gunned down</a> by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">quick to concede</a> that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">here</a>:
Colorado Movie Theater Shooting
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html" target="_hplink">opened fire on theatergoers</a> attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/batman-shooting_n_1690547.html" target="_hplink">hesitant to say</a> that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.
Sikh Temple Shooting
On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire on a Sikhs gathered at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding four more before turning the gun on himself.