San Bernardino Massacre Prompts Calls for Tighter Limits on Guns

Obama mourning in Paris.
Obama mourning in Paris.
Pete Souza for the White House

President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown decried the state of gun regulation over the weekend after Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino took the lives of 14 people and injured 21.

Legally purchased semi-automatic assault rifles that had been modified were used in the attack, authorities said. The shooters had more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition at the ready as they were gunned down by police.

Addressing the nation last night, Obama expressed support for California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to prohibit those on the federal "no-fly" list from buying firearms. He also suggested that Congress should enact even stricter gun laws:

Now, here at home, we have to work together to address the challenge. There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.

We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons, like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual was motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology.

What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill.

Gov. Brown, in Paris for global climate talks, said California's tougher gun laws contrast with those in neighboring Nevada and Arizona, creating a "gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk" by crossing state lines.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this fall proposed a ballot measure that would ban possession of large-capacity magazines for ammunition. 

Los Angeles–area state Assemblyman Mike Gatto said over the weekend that he would introduce a statehouse version of Feinstein's proposal, which was shot down in the United States Senate last week.

Her bill would have prohibited people on the suspected-terrorist "no-fly" list from purchasing firearms. Feinstein called its rejection "proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby."

Gatto said he "will introduce legislation shortly so that people on the terror watch (no-fly) list can't buy guns" and certain chemicals.

The FBI said it would lead a Joint Terrorism Task Force into the massacre. Obama called the shootings "an act of terrorism." The father of suspected shooter Syed Farook told an Italian newspaper that he believes his son was a supporter of the same Islamic State blamed for last month's terror in Paris.

Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, declared allegiance to the Islamic State, or ISIS, via Facebook about the time the shootings took place.

"We have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home," Obama said. "But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization."

On Friday The New York Times published its first front-page editorial since 1920. It called for more limits on guns:

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.


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