The path to a gun-scarce America starts in Sacramento

California leads the nation in gun control measures, but we must bring them to the next plane. That starts in Sacramento.

There are now more guns than people in the United States. [Source]

Today there are more guns than people in the United States. Americans make up 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but own almost half of the globe’s civilian-owned firearms. Some 35,000 Americans died from guns in 2015.

We’ve had more mass shootings than days so far in 2017. Four of them were in the Sacramento region.

On a local level, annual gun sales in Sacramento County went up 406 percent over the last 15 years. Since Sheriff Scott Jones took office in 2010, concealed carry handgun permits in the county exploded from 350 to almost 8,000.

The gun problem is very real here in Sacramento. Let’s bring it back under control.

We know what works in preventing gun deaths. States with the strictest gun laws have fewer gun deaths per capita. Same goes for states and countries with fewer guns per capita.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, California grades the best out of any state in terms of gun legislation. Just seven states have lower rates of gun deaths than we do. We’re doing well, considering.

But there’s a whole hell of a lot more we can do to protect Californians against gun violence.

California could be more like Germany, a nation that views gun ownership not as a right, but as a privilege for folks who prove themselves responsible. A country where firearms must be locked in safes, and where citizens must prove that the guns they seek to own are “necessary.”

We could be more like Australia, a nation that crushed the gun lobby and profoundly tightened restrictions on gun ownership after a man used semiautomatic weapons to kill 35 people in 1996. The government bought back (and then destroyed) almost 700,000 guns.

The firearm homicide rates in Australia and Germany are 1.4 and 1.9 per million people, respectively. In the United States it’s 29.7 per million.

The push for a gun-scarce America begins here in Sacramento.

Sheriff Scott Jones will not be running for re-election. But we need to ensure that his predecessor does not continue to mete out concealed carry permits at such an alarming rate.

We also need to take a look at the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. See where they stand with the gun lobby, then vote and apply pressure accordingly. Supervisor Sue Frost, for instance, was endorsed by Gun Owners of California in her 2016 race. Good to know.

And let’s not forget the State Capitol is in our back yard.

Did you know that the National Rifle Association all but gave up its efforts to buy California politicians in 2010? This state, where the gun lobby is an afterthought, is the perfect place to adopt the precautions exercised by nations like Germany and Australia.

And while California has done better than every state in recent years, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence outlines ways in which we can improve. Their recommendations:

  • Prohibit guns in bars and state parks
  • Require dealers to offer personalized handguns
  • Require safe storage in the home
  • Provide comprehensive support of gun violence intervention programs

The stronger a state’s guns laws, the fewer gun deaths it suffers. [Source]

I’d propose a step further.

In many ways, a state’s gun safety is only as strong as its neighbors’ laws. We have defeated the NRA in California. Now we should look outward.

As with Californians in the 2016 presidential election working to turn Nevada blue, we can make similar efforts on gun safety measures in our neighboring states. Gun legislation in Nevada, where last Sunday’s mass shooting took place, scored a C- from the the LCPGV. Oregon, to our north, scored a C. And Arizona, where in 2011 a man shot politician Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people, scored an F.

As California’s capital, Sacramento is uniquely placed to lead the way in bringing our nation’s gun laws to another plane.

If you want to start a conversation with California’s national-level politicians backed by the gun lobby, here is a list of some of our thoughts-and-prayers electeds in the beltway:

  • Congressman Ken Calvert – received $4,500 from the NRA in 2016 election cycle
  • Congressman David Valadao – received $3,500 from the NRA in 2016
  • Congressman Paul Cook – received $3,000 from the NRA in 2016
  • Congressman Duncan Hunter – received $3,000 from the NRA in 2016
  • Congressman Steve Knight – received $3,000 from the NRA in 2016

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Dave Kempa
Dave Kempa is the founder and editor of VOICES: River City.