When President Joe Biden landed in Southern California Monday as part of a two-day swing through the region, he stepped foot in a state deemed to have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation.
But Biden is visiting Monterey Park today, almost exactly two months after a gunman killed 11 people at a dance studio. There, Biden will express his condolences and support to a community still reeling from the attack and will tout a new executive order his administration says will reduce gun violence.
The executive order, unveiled Tuesday, March 14, instructs the attorney general to ensure gun sellers are conducting background checks as required under law and clarify just who can be “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms. These efforts will ensure fewer guns will be obtained by felons or domestic abusers, senior administration officials told reporters Monday.
Additionally, Biden’s executive order seeks to improve federal support for families, first responders and communities after a mass shooting. Pointing to FEMA responses to natural disasters, senior administration officials said Biden wants to see greater coordination among federal agencies to provide short and long-term aid, such as mental health or financial resources, to communities grappling with mass shootings.
“The reality is that our children are suffering, and I know it may not be in our lifetime, but we must do something to eradicate just how easy and accessible these guns are to our children and to people who shouldn’t have guns,” said state Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park.
California has been “very aggressive in trying to pass legislation that protects Californians,” Rubio said, adding that she hopes the federal government is “on the same page to find the urgency and desire to pass sensible gun reform.”
In Monterey Park, the gunman used a semi-automatic handgun that was purchased in Monterey Park but not registered in California, authorities said. Investigators found hundreds of rounds of ammunition and items authorities believe were being used to make homemade firearm suppressors at the gunman’s home, officials said.
On Monday, just a day ahead of the president’s visit, hundreds of activists with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action gathered at the State Capitol to call for increased gun safety measures.
“The young people, frankly, they’re traumatized,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank. He recently joined Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta last month to push for a ban on guns in public places, like churches, banks, parks and public libraries, to name a few.
“California is leading the nation on gun control, and it’s working,” Portantino said. “But does that mean every tragedy will be averted? Of course not. Does that mean we have more to do? Yes.”
California has a reputation among gun control advocates of having the strongest firearm safety laws in the U.S. And while mass shootings, like the tragedy in Monterey Park, garner more attention than gun-related homicides or suicides, research shows California has a lower firearm mortality rate than other states with more lax gun control laws.
Republicans, too, filed bills this year meant to increase penalties for people who use or possess ghost guns (firearms without a valid serial number) while committing a crime or to allow a judge to issue longer prison sentences for someone convicted of a felony with a firearm. But both bills, already, don’t seem to have a successful path forward in the legislature this year.
“Certainly what we should be doing is focusing on behavior instead of just focusing on instrumentality,” said Palmdale Assemblymember Tom Lackey, a 28-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol and Assembly Republican Caucus chair. “One of the things we need to remind people is behavior does matter.”
“When you have improper behavior that takes lives, wounds lives or threatens other people, there needs to be action taken,” Lackey said.
He implored the federal government to take a “more balanced approach” when it comes to gun control legislation, saying the Second Amendment is clear as to who should own firearms.
“Responsible people need to have the right to bear arms, but irresponsible people need to be reconsidered because they’ve self-excluded themselves from that particular right,” Lackey said. “More of these laws need to be focused on self-exclusion, not on the responsible people, and I don’t think the federal government agrees with that basic premise.”
Last year, after a gunman killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Biden signed a sweeping, bipartisan gun control bill into law that increased background checks for young gun purchasers and supported red flag laws, meant to keep guns out away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Biden said then: “Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved.”
In Monterey Park today, a community still in mourning will hear what the president plans to do next.
Source: Orange County Register
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