End the end-around on gun control

Only two months have passed since our last editorial on gun control. Such is the world we live in.

Sadly, we could write something every day about tragic gun-related violence right here in Sacramento. Raheem F. Hosseini’s news story this week attests to that fact (see “Numb to the gun,” page 8). It’s true that, after decades of homicides—mostly involving young black males in oft-neglected local neighborhoods—we’re very much desensitized to death by firearms. The shock is, sadly, quotidian. That’s not good.

Let’s feel again. And, as we wrote in our October 8 editorial, let’s be angry and outraged.

Consider: The guns used by the shooters in San Bernardino last week included two modified semi-automatic assault rifles. California has a ban on assault weapons and rifles, dating back to 1989, when the state prohibited the Colt AR-15, and 2000, when it expanded its assault-weapons ban. But this didn’t stop them.

It is yet to be determined precisely how the San Bernardino killers acquired their assault rifles (all we know is that they did legally, but that the weapons were modified to work with reloadable, large-capacity magazines).

The unfortunate reality is that the rifles were manufactured specifically to get around California’s ban. Companies target the state’s market with end-around assault-rifle products that can be easily modified to work with magazines that carry more ammunition rounds. Or that can be made fully automatic.

Enough. The state should enact a zero-tolerance policy for weapons of war and terror, such as the sale of assault rifles that can be modified with equipment that enables the faster reloading of ammunition magazines.

Gov. Jerry Brown has, in the past, vetoed legislation that would have banned assault rifles with detachable magazines. This week, he stated that he’d like to see the federal government enact stronger laws, and that, without the fed intervention, California action would be toothless. He also pointed to weak laws in neighboring Nevada and Arizona as creating difficulties for gun regulation here in the Golden State.

That said, Brown also has stated concern over violating gun-owner rights.

Time to change this tune: California is ahead of most of the country, and even the world, when it comes to climate-change policy. And we should be leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the United States when it comes to stringent gun and ammunition laws.

This issue is also about public safety, and gun owners need to make a sacrifice and forgo their weapons of war.

We understand that people enjoy recreational shooting such as target practice with assault rifles, and that many equate gun ownership with self-defense. But the future of gun control needs to be about self-sacrifice for the betterment of society.

Assault rifles and weapons of murder and terror, they just don’t belong in society. A comprehensive and meaningful ban on them and their end-around accessories in California is the next and necessary step. Let’s show the rest of the country how it’s done.