In this age of ultra-divisive politics, gun rights has become an issue which evokes an emotional response (“Students support Second Amendment rights,” Oct. 7). People point to mass shootings, home defense and death tolls as a means to justify their stance. This almost always leads to a heated debate. Add political gridlock and the stranglehold lobbyists have on our system, and it is not hard to see why there is frustration on all sides of this issue.
A strong democracy depends upon an informed electorate. We are not meant to vote based on political affiliations, familial ties or emotions. It is our civic duty to learn about the issues and vote based on the utilitarian principals of serving the greater good.
I encourage you to read about proposition 63. What exactly is being proposed?
1. Ensure convicted criminals turn in their weapons. Under current laws, criminals are required to turn in their weapons, but there is nothing in place to enforce this law.
2. Regulate the sales of ammunition. Anyone can sell ammunition. You can buy thousands of rounds online. Under Prop. 63, ammunition dealers will have to pass a background check.
3. Require background checks for all gun dealers and their employees/Require all stolen firearms to be reported. This will fix the loophole that allows illegal weapons to be reported as stolen after they are used in a crime. It will also prevent illegal sales and gun trafficking.
4. Prohibit large capacity magazines. A large capacity magazine (LCM) is capable of holding 10 or more rounds. The motivation behind this is mass shootings. Statistically, there are more deaths following a mass shooting when a LCM is used.
5. Strengthen background checks. This will ensure that the FBI and DOJ communicate effectively to share watch lists and prevent criminals from obtaining weapons.
6. Clarify the consequences for firearm theft. Theft is the backbone of the black market. California law is unclear about the penalty for firearm theft. This will make it a felony across the board.
There are only two “new” proposals within Prop. 63. There has never been a previous ban on large capacity magazines, and there has never been a requirement to sell ammunition. Everything else in this proposition is designed to fix loopholes to previous laws.
We are unable to track gun statistics in the United States, but the data we do have is eye-opening. The CDC says California lost over $4.2 billion in workplace productivity last year due to gun violence. One has to wonder if the time, money and resources can’t be better spent.
We all have personal experiences that shape our beliefs, but at the end of the day we all want the same thing. Nobody wants to see an innocent life lost; none of us want a gun to fall into the hands of a killer. Let’s focus on the things we agree on and work toward achieving those goals. Choosing a side has gotten us nowhere.
John J. Gilmore
LaFetra College of Education