Mass shootings and gun violence in general would fall nationwide if other states adopted California's gun control measures, a group of state legislators and gun safety advocates argued this week.
State Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, and Assembly member Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, co-hosted a town hall discussion Wednesday, April 19, about how California can protect state residents from gun violence in the wake of the Jan. 23 shooting in Half Moon Bay in which seven people were killed and an eighth was critically injured.
The shooting happened less than 48 hours after an unrelated mass shooting in Monterey Park in Los Angeles County, in which 11 people were killed and nine others were injured.
"Because guns can still be brought in from out of state, we're going to always face challenges until Congress confronts the gun lobby and steps up and says, 'enough is enough,'" Becker said.
Along with Becker and Berman, the discussion included Dr. Garen Wintemute, the director of the University of California, Davis' Violence Prevention Research Program, as well as Brady vice president of organizing Shikha Hamilton, Moms Demand Action spokesperson Rudy Espinoza Murray and Palo Alto Unified School District board president Jennifer DiBrienza.
Wintemute argued that gun control measures are unequivocally effective at preventing mass shootings and that California's firearm death rate has plummeted since the late 1980s and early 1990s due in large part to state-level gun violence prevention measures.
California now has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranking near states like New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Gun deaths are also far more likely in the United States than in other developed countries. The United States' gun death rate in a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was 10.6 per 100,000 people.
That rate was several orders of magnitude higher than in countries like Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Spain, all of which had death rates at 2.7 per 100,000 people or less.
"In the United States, there has to be a specific reason for you not to have a gun; in every other wealthy, industrialized country, there has to be a specific reason for you to have a gun," Wintemute said.
"We have more guns in this country than we have people," he added. "They are tools, they are being put to use for which they were made and that's where our mortality and injury rates come from."
State legislators are currently considering a bill that would raise the age minimum for a concealed carry gun permit from 18 to 21 and would prohibit permit holders from bringing a gun into "sensitive places," including polling places, health care facilities, playgrounds and public transit.
Senate Bill 2 would also expand training requirements for concealed carry permits and add subjects to permit training courses like safe storage and legal transportation of guns.
Becker and Berman have both signed on as co-authors of SB 2, which was principally authored and introduced by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank.
State officials have said SB 2 is designed to be compliant with last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which the court ruled that carrying a handgun in public solely for self-defense is constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment.
The ruling struck down a New York state law that had allowed licensing officials to reject concealed carry permit requests from applicants who did not show a special need to carry a gun outside of self-defense.
Berman has also introduced Assembly Bill 1598, which would require the state Department of Justice to update the state's gun safety test, which gun permit applicants must pass to own a gun, to include information about the risks of owning a gun and keeping it within one's home.
"People think that they'll buy a gun to keep themselves' safe," Berman said. "But the reality is that if you have a gun in your home, the odds increase dramatically that you or someone you love will be the victim of gun violence, either interpersonal violence or self-harm or possibly an accident."
Watch the full town hall: