NYTimes: "Real Gun Control From Sacramento"
Published: May 5, 2013 -- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/opinion/real-gun-control-from-sacramento.html
A continent removed from Washington's shameful resistance to new gun controls, California has just enacted a law that will speed up the confiscation of firearms from an estimated 20,000 people who bought them legally but were later disqualified because of a conviction for a violent crime, a finding of mental illness or a restraining order for domestic violence. The law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown after passage by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, is a sign that enlightened lawmaking unhindered by gun lobby scare tactics and Capitol Hill filibustering is possible in American politics.
The law allocates $24 million to hire 36 state agents specifically assigned to confiscating, over the next three years, an estimated 39,000 handguns and 1,670 assault weapons now in the hands of potentially dangerous Californians. A confiscation law has been on the books in Sacramento for six years, but enforcement has languished because of budget shortages, with the list of disqualified gun owners growing at the rate of 15 to 20 a day. The allocation of revenue required a two-thirds vote of approval, which the Legislature's supermajority of Democrats delivered.
The gun lobby was smart enough not to oppose a law to take guns from convicted criminals and the mentally ill. It did, however, unsuccessfully challenge the financing mechanism, which will tap gun owners' registration fees to pay for the program. In another burst of common sense, pro-gun Republicans were rebuffed in their simplistic proposal to authorize the arming of schoolteachers as a response to the shooting rampage in Connecticut in December that killed 20 children and six school staff members.
Instead, the Democrats on the Senate Public Safety Committee used 5-to-2 party-line votes to advance a series of proposals to strengthen the state's already respectable gun controls, including a requirement for background checks and licenses for ammunition buyers, and a proposal that would deny gun ownership to people who abuse alcohol and drugs. Final enactment of these proposals would be a further sign of California's leadership on gun safety measures that most of the nation can only envy.