Lest we forget the East Bay is still a bastion of liberalism, a few of its Democratic legislators Friday reminded voters that even though societal factors like unemployment and an eroding middle class may be a cause for rising gun violence, firearms are also to blame.

Although Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Sen. Loni Hancock targeted guns and residual violence in the media and video games at Friday’s Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, it was freshman Assemblyman Bill Quirk who flashed the hottest rhetoric calling for more prohibitive gun control measures.

“We have a disconnect in the Legislature,” said Quirk of Republican colleagues who believe the use of firearms for personal protection and for sport are equal. “We know the best to get killed by a gun is to have a gun in your house for self-protection,” he said.

Quirk also applauded Skinner and Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s pending legislation to tax bullet sales. “You can’t shoot people if you don’t have ammunition,” Quirk said.

The best way to promote safety, Quirk said, is to prohibit guns, except for sport. But, the East Bay is mostly an urban landscape, he says. “In the area we come from guns are for killing people.” He also skewered conservative second amendment proponents for their strict constructionist beliefs over the right to bear arms. “They claim to follow the Founding Fathers,” Quirk said, “but they don’t.”

Skinner and Hancock agreed with Quirk’s interpretation of the second amendment and its adherents.

“It says a regulated militia,” said Hancock. “It doesn’t say anybody can carry anything anywhere they are.” She added, “Limiting access to guns is a part of the solution.”

Just the presence of guns in the home is a problem, said Skinner, who said, “I vary on notion on the second amendment.”

“The presence of guns in homes does nothing for public safety,” she said. Skinner also advocated for “limiting” the number of firearms and ammunition available. This year, Skinner advanced various gun control bills in the Assembly expressly aimed at slowing the proliferation of guns on the streets.

However, she said, “Legislation alone won’t be enough.”

Later, Skinner faulted the federal government for failing to pass meaningful gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shootings last December that killed 20 elementary school children and six adults.

Although Friday’s assembly hearing was chaired by Bonta, who represents Oakland, San Leandro and Alameda, he offered none of the heated rhetoric of his fellow lawmaker other than to promote a discussion on how to find solutions to lower crime in Oakland, including its perception of lawlessness, seen by many in the surrounding East Bay.

Cross-posted to: http://www.ebcitizen.com/2013/05/east-bay-legislators-call-for-stringent.html

5 Responses

  1. Max Allstadt

    There are two proposals from Sacramento to tax ammunition. SB 760 and AB 187. SB 760 is a tax of 5 cents per bullet (any bullet). AB 187 taxes all ammo at 10%.

    If both pass, the after-tax price in Alameda County for certain types of ammunition, particularly handgun ammunition, will go up dramatically.

    That might sound like a good idea, but there’s a problem: prices in Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona won’t go up. The difference in cost between local gun stores and out-of-state stores for 9mm handgun ammunition will be up to 50%. $1.00 per bullet for 9mm, after taxes, in the Bay Area, is a reasonable prediction of the price after AB 187 and AB 760.

    The price of .22 caliber ammunition will more than double under AB 187 and SB 760, because California will be putting a 5 cent tax on ammo that costs as little as 4 cents per bullet.

    This is how black markets are born. There is already a black market in Oakland for handguns and assault weapons bought in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Soon we will have a black market for ammunition. This won’t make Oakland safer.

    Further, creating an incentive to smuggle ammunition from out of state will make other common-sense gun reforms less effective. There is a proposal to require ID to purchase ammo in California. It’s a sane and common sense idea: felons who are banned by law from buying guns shouldn’t be able to easily buy ammo to use in illegal guns.

    Under the new law, a felon who wants to get ammo in California would have to find a straw purchaser to go to a California gun store for him, or find a black market source. If high ammo taxes create a profitable black market for ammo, it becomes less likely that a felon seeking ammo would use an in-state straw purchase.

    In-state straw purchases of guns and ammo are arguably better for California law enforcement than black market sales and smuggling from out of state. With every in-state purchase, there’s more opportunity to trace the sale, or to catch the buyer on camera at a California gun store. The trail of an illegal gun or illegal ammo will be easier to trace in-state.

    What we have here is a bunch of well-meaning lawmakers attempting to create reforms, but without looking at unintended side effects. The state legislature and Governor brown would be wise to study the difference in cost of ammo across state lines that they will be creating, and to reduce or eliminate ammunition taxes from the agenda. Otherwise black market ammunition may end up being a bigger problem than illegal guns are already.

  2. Max Allstadt

    Hey Oakland Local, you know what’d be nice? If paragraphs worked in your comments!

  3. primeonly27

    Maybe Skinner can put a gun free zone sign in front of his house to lead by example. Don’t believe this guys rhetoric until you see the sign in his yard.

  4. Oakie

    The politicians we have will not listen to reason because the voters of Oakland don’t listen to reason.

    Promulgating these asinine laws serves several purposes, none of which have anything to do with solving a very real problem (way too many guys are carrying loaded weapons in our city for the purpose of committing crimes).

    It provides fodder for the unthinking that we are doing something about the problem without resorting to what actually works but is unacceptable to them (cops stopping people and frisking them for weapons, which would upset their 60’s dogma belief system).

    Adding to that is another incentive for the politicians: adding more tax revenue to spend as they like. Remember that almost without exception that those who support these new taxes do not buy bullets, which follow the adage: Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the guy behind the tree. Well, in this case, the guy behind the tree is the law abiding citizen stupid enough to buy ammunition locally. I’m not one of them (never owned or even shot a weapon) but it’s pretty clear what’s really happening here.

    In the mean time, people are killed on a very regular basis with weapons possessed by mostly felons to oppress the masses, mostly black and brown people. But no one here really cares about them (of the 149 murders in Oakland a couple years ago, 6 where nonhispanic whites).

    And the beat goes on.

  5. creekside

    Quirk stated: “We know the best [sic] to get killed by a gun is to have a gun in your house for self-protection.”

    Has this man even driven through the flats of Oakland?

    This is the problem: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&t=h&source=embed&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=212303325541323050500.0004d2de685e721a45f7b

    The shootings are on the streets, not in the homes, and law-abiding people with access to firearms in their homes is the very last protection they have against home invasion burglary, robbery and just plain murder. Quirk proposes to take away this last protection through his support of Bonta’s ridiculous “Oakland needs more gun laws than anywhere else in California” bill.

    Street violence will go up in Bonta’s “Oakland Prison” because even the cells will be less safe. If we want to reduce street violence, the route to go is exactly the other way — allow law-abiding Oakland residents to apply for and receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm. This is within the discretion of the Oakland police chief.


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