California plays a major role in the gun debate with legislators submitting a number of new bills and the state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, leading the charge in Congress for a renewed assault gun ban. In Oakland yesterday, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner announced another bill, AB 48, dealing with ammunition sales. The Oakland Tribune declared the proposal would “test just how far California is willing to go to tighten some of the nation’s strictest gun control laws.”
How the average Californian views the move toward ever more encompassing gun controls may surprise gun control advocates.
Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times featured a front-page story about Ontario, California’s gun show over the weekend and it’s overflow crowd of eager buyers. While the gun debate has centered around assault weapons because of the mass killings recently in Colorado and Connecticut, many Americans are concerned that that the effort to eliminate certain guns might grow to make it harder to acquire other types of guns and the ability to get ammunition, something many believe is a danger to their safety and security.
The horror of the mass shootings has brought about a far-reaching debate, exemplified by a couple of other pieces in yesterday’s LA Times. Columnist George Skelton recalled the signing of the state’s assault gun ban under Governor George Deukmejian, which the newspaper headlined as a “Republican role model on gun control.” Meanwhile, the entertainment section questioned Hollywood about escalating TV violence and the possibility that such screen stories “fuel real-world killings.”
In the end, the success of gun control efforts will come down to the feeling citizens have of their own personal safety and whether they feel the gun control proposals prevent them from being their own first line of defense, especially in their homes.
The turnout at the Ontario gun show is one indication how many people feel. A similar reaction about citizens’ attitude toward guns for self-protection has happened in California before. After the 1992 Los Angeles riots, gun sales zoomed because people believed they were ultimately responsible for protecting themselves. As the New York Times reported at the time, “The riots have made gun owners out of people who used to shun guns.”
That same attitude is likely to arise with overreaching efforts to shut down access to guns and ammunition.