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The California Model: Soft on Violent Firearm Crimes, Hard on Law-Abiding Gun Owners


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A frustrating aspect of the modern gun control movement is its seeming abandonment of reason. The same anti-gun politicians that attack the rights of law-abiding gun owners will advocate for more lenient treatment of those who misuse firearms to commit violent crime.

Consider California’s Assembly Bill 1509, which would alter the state’s scheme of sentence enhancements for serious crimes committed with firearms. The legislative counsel’s digest summarized the changes as follows:

Existing law imposes a sentence enhancement in the state prison of 10 years for personally using a firearm in the commission of specified felonies, 20 years for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm in the commission of those felonies, and 25 years to life for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury or death to any other person during the commission of those felonies.

This bill would reduce those enhancements to 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively. 

Existing law imposes a sentence enhancement of 5, 6, or 10 years in the state prison for, with intent to inflict great bodily injury or death, discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony and inflicting great bodily injury or death in the commission of a felony.

This bill would reduce that enhancement to 1, 2, or 3 years in the state prison.

AB1509 was authored by Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-25). The bill was coauthored by Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo (D-51), Ash Kalra (D-27), Mark Stone (D-29), and Senator Scott Wiener (D-11).

Assemblywoman Carrillo has been a vocal proponent of further restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. On May 17, 2018, Carrillo spoke at a gun control rally in Sacramento, put on, in part, by the Brady Campaign. The lawmaker took to Twitter on February 5, 2019 to boast of meeting Gabrielle Giffords of the eponymous Giffords gun control organization, adding, “California has enacted strict gun laws that can lead the way to a national conversation. We need action. #GunReformNow.”

Similarly, Assemblymember Kalra has pushed for gun control. As a San Jose City councilmember, Kalra proposed an ordinance that would have required gun owners to comply with onerous storage requirements, ammunition sellers to register transactions, and re-victimized gun owners whose firearms were stolen by requiring them to report the theft within 48 hours. 

In 2019, Senator Wiener advanced legislation to permanently ban gun shows at Daly City, Calif.’s Cow Palace. On August 31, 2019, the state senator took to Twitter to advocate for gun confiscation and other extreme gun controls, stating, 

No more talk on guns

Action only

Ban assault weapons & mandate buyback of assault weapons

Extend restrictions to ammo

Universal background checks & waiting period

And no more letting people carry weapons in public. Anywhere.

Moreover, all of the coauthors have voted in favor of a raft of gun restrictions, including gun rationing, restrictions on gun shows, and a resolution urging the federal government to enact California-style gun control laws.

Some will find it confusing that lawmakers who promote gun control as a means to reduce criminal violence would support more lenient penalties for those who actually use firearms to perpetrate violence. However, such confusion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the gun control agenda.

Gun control is not about reducing violent crime or bolstering public safety, it is about using the power of government to indulge ugly political and cultural prejudices. These lawmakers’ seemingly paradoxical behavior underscores this fact.

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