Such thoughtless oratory in the face of ongoing gun-related tragedy plays into the hands of the NRA’s many enemies. Women constitute much of our sorrowful population of gunshot survivors. They’ve felt the full pain of the loss of children, spouses, parents. They’ve not had the pretense of male stoicism to hide behind. They generally reject the NRA notion that guns have little role in shooting deaths, which they they are disinclined to see, through NRA-colored lenses, as an accidental contingency to the vital right to bear arms, or as a problem whose solution is even more gun ownership.
Appropriately, in the wake of the Granada Hills shootings, a woman legislator may be the first to bring to Congress a bill that would make it harder for the Buford Furrows of this world to get their hands on firearms. According to her spokesman, Howard Gantman, Senator Dianne Feinstein plans this month to introduce a bill that would require the registry not of guns or present gun owners, but of new gun purchasers.
The proposal has been around for some time, and the NRA will fight it with all its might. It may not pass on the first try. It makes sense, however. We’ve had an onslaught of recent local and state gun-control laws in California and elsewhere. But the simplest truth about gun control is that it will always be, first and foremost, a national problem.
The proposed federal license law is simple. In order to buy a gun, you’d have to do three things: complete a background check, pass a gun-safety and -competence test, and be fingerprinted. The requirements could be administered on either the state or the federal level; Gantman said that states would, in fact, be encouraged to pass such legislation of their own. Handgun Control’s Luis Tolley notes that, ironically, it would probably be easier to pass gun-owner licensing than gun registration, due to the gun lobby’s deep resistance to any inventory of the firearms already in the possession of roughly every other U.S. household.
But even this may be changing. Last October, the Timesreported that California handgun sales had already fallen to the lowest annual level since 1973 — about 204,000 — even though the state’s population had increased by 60 percent in the intervening years. Could California once more be initiating a national trend? Could it be that gun ownership is no longer fashionable?
Credit Where Due
This column hasn’t always been kind to LAPD Chief Bernard Parks. So it’s high time to come right out and applaud Parks — along with Sheriff Lee Baca — for standing tall on the gun-control issue and putting himself in the forefront of the fight. Parks has spoken loudly and clearly for better handgun controls, and to take assault weapons off the streets and out of the hands of civilians. More power to him. If anything sets him apart from former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates, with whom he is so often identified, it is his forthrightness on this very thorny issue.
Just one little thing, though. The day before the county supervisors voted to ban gun sales at the county fairgrounds, Parks mentioned at a Hall of Administration news conference that the city of Los Angeles already had its own ban on gun shows. Asked just how long the ban had been in effect, he said he didn’t know.
In fact, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the ban was introduced just four years ago, at the urging of Parks’ sometimes-reviled predecessor, Chief Willie L. Williams.