September 29, 2016

gun controlAlmost 3,000 Californians die every year by gun violence aimed at others or through suicide. It’s estimated that as many as twice that number suffer non-fatal injuries by firearms.[i]  Members in San Francisco Bay Area PSR and in PSR nationwide work in hospital emergency rooms and treat all too many of these victims of senseless and gross acts of violence.

SF PSR supported 10 bills in Sacramento this year to reduce gun violence in California.  The success of those bills was mixed—some failed in the legislature, and some were vetoed, some were signed by Governor Jerry Brown.  It’s estimated by some gun control advocates that Governor Brown generally signs about half the gun control bills that hit his desk. In spite of that, California is ranked as the #1 state for strong gun laws by the Brady Campaign.[ii](this will be a hyperlink once content is approved) Read more here for some notable outcomes of gun control policy supported by PSR San Francisco during the state 2016 legislative session:

Governor Brown signed three very important bills aimed at assault weapons. SB 880 (Hall) and AB 1664 (Ting, Levine) removed the bullet button legal loophole. Bullet button-equipped assault weapons are functionally the same as illegal assault weapons, but have been legal under California law due to a loophole that allows the possession of assault weapons that require a tool to eject and reload the ammunition magazine.  The governor also signed AB 1446 (Hancock) which prohibits the possession of large capacity magazines (magazines that hold more than 10 rounds) and increases public safety.

However, two bills that, according to Amanda Wilcox, California Legislative and Policy Chair, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, would have helped reduce gun violence in impacted communities failed this year. AB 1674 (Santiago), which would have extended the purchase limit of one handgun per month to rifles and shotguns, was vetoed by the governor. AB 2459 (McCarty) would have helped provide transparency for all gun transactions and help deter illegal activity by requiring the videotaping of all firearm sales; it failed in committee.

SF PSR supported two bills whose goals were to learn more about the causes and impacts of gun and other violence.  SB 877 (Pan) calls for the collection of data regarding violent deaths for public health surveillance and epidemiology and was signed by Governor Brown.

Unfortunately, SB 1006 (Wolk) met a far different fate, as it did not pass out of committee. In spite of the shocking statistics regarding gun violence and deaths, the U.S. Congress has adopted policy since 1996 to prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies from conducting publicly-funded research on the causes of gun violence and its impact on public health.  Had SB 1006 advanced through the California legislature and been signed by Governor Brown, it would have created a gun violence research center in the UC system aimed at preventing and treating firearm violence at the individual, community, and societal levels.

 Studies show that states with the toughest gun control laws have the lowest gun-related homicide and suicide rates.[iii] SF PSR will continue to support effective legislation to save lives by reducing and preventing gun and other forms of violence.

[i] CDC reports that, nationwide, twice as many people suffer non-fatal injuries as die from gun violence. Centers for Disease Control, National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 61, Number 4, Deaths: Final Data for 2010, May 8, 2013. vital

[ii] Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

 [iii] Eric W. Fleegler, MD, MPH; Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Michael C. Monuteaux, ScD; David Hemenway, PhD; Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH,  Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States  (May 13, 2013).