After bar shoot­ing, some won­der if Calif. gun laws are tough enough

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY TIM ARANGO AND JEN­NIFER ME­D­INA

After a mass killing in Santa Bar­bara in 2014, Cal­i­for­nia passed a law that let po­lice of­fi­cers and fam­ily mem­bers seek re­strain­ing or­ders to seize guns from trou­bled peo­ple. A year later, a shoot­ing ram­page in San Bernardino led to vot­ers ap­prov­ing a bal­lot propo­si­tion to out­law ex­panded mag­a­zines for guns and re­quire back­ground checks for buy­ing am­mu­ni­tion.

The state has also banned as­sault weapons and reg­u­lates am­mu­ni­tion sales – all part of a wave of gun reg­u­la­tion that be­gan a quar­ter cen­tury ago with a mass mur­der at a San Fran­cisco law firm.

Cal­i­for­nia may have the tough­est gun con­trol laws in the na­tion, but that still did not pre­vent the lat­est mass killing – a shoot­ing on Wed­nes­day that left 12 peo­ple dead at the Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks.

The com­mu­nity of Thou­sand Oaks is just start­ing to grieve its losses, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors are still comb­ing through the back­ground of the gun­man, who was found dead after the shoot­ing. But gun con­trol ac­tivists and politi­cians in the state are al­ready weigh­ing what more can be done, and whether ex­ist­ing mea­sures could have pre­vented the killing.

The at­tack came just as Cal­i­for­nia elected a new gov­er­nor, Gavin New­som, this week, and eyes are on him to see how he re­sponds.

New­som is seen as even more ag­gres­sive on gun re­stric­tions than his pre­de­ces­sor, Gov. Jerry Brown, and some ex­perts say the state could see the pas­sage of even tougher laws. As lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, New­som led the ef­fort after the San Bernardino killings to pass the bal­lot propo­si­tion on high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines and back­ground checks – a mea­sure that has not been en­acted yet be­cause of a court chal­lenge.

With Brown out of the state this week, and New­som serv­ing as act­ing gov­er­nor, the mass shoot­ing be­came the first cri­sis he faced after be­ing elected Tues­day night.

“The re­sponse is not just prayers,” New­som said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day in Sacra­mento. “The re­sponse can­not just be ex­cuses. The re­sponse sure as hell can­not be more guns.”

Sur­vivors and fam­ily mem­bers of those who have been killed in gun vi­o­lence are also call­ing for stronger mea­sures. On Thurs­day, Su­san Or­fanos, whose son sur­vived a mass shoot­ing in Las Ve­gas last year only to die in the Border­line, told a New York Times re­porter: “He didn’t come home last night, and the two words I want you to write are: gun con­trol. Right now – so that no one else goes through this. Can you do that? Can you do that for me? Gun con­trol.”

As Cal­i­for­nia has be­come more lib­eral in re­cent decades, and es­pe­cially after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was elected, gun con­trol is one of sev­eral is­sues – along with cli­mate change, im­mi­gra­tion and health care – that have placed the state firmly in op­po­si­tion to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. In the wake of mass killings, the state’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of­ten find them­selves push­ing for more gun con­trol within Cal­i­for­nia while speak­ing out against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s un­will­ing­ness to take up the is­sue, and against the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s po­si­tions.


A vigil is held Thurs­day for those killed in a shoot­ing a day prior, at Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif. Gun con­trol ac­tivists and politi­cians in the state were al­ready weigh­ing what more can be done, and whether ex­ist­ing mea­sures could have pre­vented the deaths of 12 peo­ple.

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