This month’s mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia fueled the country’s guns debate and resulted in new federal laws on background checks, waiting times, and military-style gun bans, all of which have been in California for some time.
Had they prevent bloodshed? Here’s a look at California’s gun laws and how they could have overlapped with the men charged with the recent shootings.
In Georgia, police charged a 21-year-old man on March 16 at three massage parlors in shot dead eight people in the Atlanta area. They said he legally purchased the 9mm pistol believed to have been used in the killings earlier that day. Police said he told them he was frustrated with sex addiction and temptation.
In Colorado, police charged another 21-year-old man of fatally 10 people, including a police officer, in a Boulder supermarket on March 22 to have shot. He had bought a military-style pistol and a pistol six days earlier – on the same day as the Atlanta shooting. It was not clear where he bought them, but so far there is no evidence that he was legally prohibited from buying firearms. Police were unsure of the motive, but said his family said he may have a mental illness.
Since the shootings, Democratic officials in Washington have been calling for stricter state background checks on gun purchases, a new ban on semi-automatic » Assault weapons « and high-capacity military-style ammunition magazines, as well as longer waiting times for weapons purchases. A previous federal ban on military-style weapons expired in 2004.
California already requires universal background checks on all arms sales and transfers, and has banned military-style weapons for decades. The state also limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and requires a 10-day wait before a buyer can take possession of a firearm.
In California, where the Giffords Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence has the highest rating among the states for its There are other laws that could potentially have prevented the mass shootings. Among them is a red flag law that allows affected family members, employees and law enforcement agencies to obtain a court order to temporarily remove weapons from anyone who is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.
Giffords Center gives Peach State the lowest rating for gun restrictions and says Georgia has no universal background checks, no waiting time for gun purchases, red flag laws, or restrictions on military-style guns or large capacity magazines.
Giffords gives that Centennial State has an average gun law rating. Colorado has universal background checks, a red flag law, and prohibits large capacity magazines, but does not prohibit military-style weapons throughout the state and has no waiting time to make purchases. Denver has a local ban on military-style weapons. Boulder had a similar ban, but it was annulled by a court since it was passed in 2018 after a 2003 state law prohibited local authorities from preventing people from buying or owning guns made under state law are permitted. However, the shooter lived in a nearby town.
It doesn’t appear that either of the shooters evaded a background check. While the bouldering shooter had a military-style weapon, he was also armed with a pistol. It’s also not clear that California’s 10-round gun magazine capacity limit would have prevented any of the gunshot deaths.
California’s 10-day wait to pick up a purchased gun could have had an impact, said Amanda Wilcox, chairman for Legislation and policy in the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The alleged Georgia rifleman killed eight people within hours of buying a pistol and the suspected bouldering shooter within a week of buying a pistol.
Wilcox said the wait allowed not only time for a thorough background check, but also a « cool-down period » in which the buyer, whether angry at others or suicidal, can reconsider.
California’s Red Flag Act, also known as an Order to Restrict Gun Violence or an Order to Protect from extreme risks, could possibly have made a difference in the shootings this month, Wilcox said, as both alleged gunmen showed signs of mental distress. California authorities say the law helped them stave off a number of potential shootings.
However, the Boulder Gunner’s family did not rely on Colorado’s version of the law, and it is unclear whether those who did the Georgia Gunnery stand close, considered him a threat enough to report him to the authorities. Wilcox said education and knowledge of the law are critical to their success. « People need to know about this, » said Wilcox. “It sounds like that could have been true. It was not used in this case. The family probably didn’t know. «
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Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said the recent shootings showed that more national gun laws will make no difference in such crimes. Background checks, military-style gun and magazine bans, waiting times, and red flag laws either did not prevent the recent shootings or would have had unknown effects on them. California, he said, still has the occasional mass shootings.
« Any laws they talk about would only affect law-abiding citizens, » Paredes said. « They would not affect anyone who intends to commit a crime. » However, Wilcox said that the benefits of such laws should not be denied just because they do not prevent any crime. Gun homicide rates have fallen in California.
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