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California to push for more gun legislation in wake of mass shootings

“I will be signing this legislation. I don’t think I’ll be signing this legislation, I will be signing it,” Newsom said.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — In the wake of multiple mass shootings in the past weeks, California Governor Gavin Newsom, state Attorney General Rob Bonta, and state Senator Anthony Portantino announced a new effort Wednesday to pass tighter gun safety regulations. 

Introduced by Portantino, a Democrat from Glendale, Senate Bill 918 would require people applying for a concealed carry permit to be at least 21 years old, require the person to have at least 16 hours of gun safety training and mandate a determination if the applicant is likely to be a danger to themselves or others, among other requirements. 

The bill would also prohibit where people can take concealed weapons, including places of worship, courthouses, any airport buildings or parking lot, and any building or parking structure associated with a public or private school, or on a street or sidewalk adjacent to a school.   

All of these provisions are within the bounds of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which struck down provisions of New York’s concealed carry permit application process, Bonta said.  

The bill was originally introduced in the Legislature last year, but it failed by two votes to get the supermajority needed to pass the Assembly.

“I will be signing this legislation. I don’t think I’ll be signing this legislation, I will be signing it,” Newsom said, adding that the spate of recent mass shootings in the state has made the need, and his advocacy, for more gun safety legislation that much more urgent.  

California has been and will continue to be a leader for the country in gun safety legislation, and a model for other states and the federal government, Newsom added.   

Stanford law professor John Donohue agrees. “Basically, if you’re talking about governmental action by a state, California is just about as good as it gets on gun legislation,” he said .  

Donohue said that in the 1990’s, California had much looser concealed-carry laws than Texas, which had a concealed-carry law that dated to 1871. And California had a much higher murder rate than Texas as well. But then-Governor George W. Bush signed legislation making it legal to conceal carry weapons in public in Texas, along with a number of other laws that loosened gun regulations in 1995, and California has tightened gun laws. Now Texas has a much higher murder rate than California, which has seen a reduction in violent gun crime since tighter concealed-carry regulations were enacted Donohue said. 

“It’ll reduce violent crime overall,” Donohue said of SB 918, “but it probably won’t have a big impact on mass shootings as restrictions on high-capacity magazines or assault weapons might.” California already passed such restrictions but are currently being challenged in court. 

While Donohue said that tightening concealed-carry laws might make it harder for would be mass shooters to legally carry weapons in public spaces, passing legislation restricting access to assault weapons, and requiring psychiatric evaluations of people wanting to buy guns — something Donohue called a European style approach — would be an effective way to stop mass shootings.  

Not surprisingly, firearms advocates don't agree with SB 918.

“If Governor Newsom and AG Bonta truly wanted to address the violent crime running rampant through their state, they’d put an end to the soft-on-crime policies and no cash bail programs that have turned California into a nightmare for its citizens,” Lars Dalseide, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, wrote in an emailed statement. “Instead, these politicians have chosen to further restrict the rights of those who follow the law with a political stunt that will not make Californians any safer.

Newsom also thanked anti-gun violence advocacy groups for supporting the legislation, like the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, The Brady Campaign, and Moms Demand Action, representatives of whom spoke at the announcement.

After having met with survivors of recent mass shootings in both Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, including a survivor who he said was worried more about how they would be able to pay for the medical care to treat their wounds because they did not have health insurance, Newsom said his advocacy for gun safety legislation only increased.  

“American-made reality. This is American made,” Newsom said. “This is a national disgrace. It’s a national epidemic.”

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