OP-ED: Don’t let Congress eviscerate California’s common-sense gun laws

OP-ED: Don’t let Congress eviscerate California’s common-sense gun laws

October 2, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Author’s note: This op-ed was written before the events of last night. We are heartbroken by the massacre in Las Vegas by a single armed gunman. In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, we continue to call for our representatives to enact commonsense gun measures that are proven to protect our communities.

We are law professors at UC Irvine, and we live and work in California’s 45th Congressional District, currently represented by Mimi Walters. More importantly, we are parents and engaged members of our community, and like our neighbors, we care deeply about the safety of our community and schools.

Orange County has consistently been ranked one of the safest regions in the country, which is why we were so shocked and disappointed to discover that Congresswoman Walters is pushing legislation that will make Orange County much more dangerous. Rep. Walters is co-sponsoring the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow people with concealed weapons permits issued by other states to carry guns anywhere in the country, including California.

In order to get a concealed weapons permit in California, you must complete a firearms safety course. And you can’t get a permit if been convicted of a felony or domestic violence, or been diagnosed with certain mental illness.

These are reasonable restrictions, voted on by our representatives in Sacramento and designed to keep our communities safe. They have worked. Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and Irvine — some of the largest cities in our Congressional district — have consistently been ranked as some of the safest cities in the country. As parents, community members, and educators, we haven’t had to worry about concealed weapons — and the prospect that these might harm someone in an accidental shooting or an act of mass violence — in our schools, churches, or Little League baseball games.

Not every state has these rules. Eleven states issue concealed-carry permits without requiring a safety course. Twenty states will grant permits even to people who have been convicted of violent crimes. Under the law Rep. Walters is sponsoring, convicted violent felons and domestic abusers from other states would be able to bring concealed weapons into our Orange County neighborhoods, and there would be nothing our local law enforcement could do about this.

How big a problem would this really create? Orange County is home to some of the best and most popular beaches in the world. We’re home to Disneyland and other theme parks and attractions. In 2015, more than 47 million people visited Orange County. If even one percent of them brought guns, that would be 47,000 concealed and unaccounted-for guns on our streets.

The CCRA is especially troubling because there is no national database for conceal-carry permits, so there is no way for a police officer to confirm that a person carrying a loaded gun at the beach has a valid permit from another state. In effect, this would eviscerate California’s common-sense gun laws.

For decades, the gun lobby has argued that people from Southern California or New York should not be allowed to force gun laws onto people in rural Alabama or Mississippi. But Rep. Walters and the CCRA’s other sponsors are perfectly happy to force Alabama’s lax concealed weapons laws onto California communities. It is especially ironic that Congressional Republican leaders like Mimi Walters, who champion the cause of states’ rights, would seek to override California’s authority to determine its own public-safety laws.

The CCRA is clearly more about appeasing the National Rifle Association than it is about doing what is right for our communities. As parents who care about the safety of our community, we urge Rep. Walters to drop her sponsorship of the CCRA and vote against it. We encourage our neighbors who care about public safety to do the same.

Dave Min is a candidate for congressional district 45 and teaches at the UC Irvine School of Law. Jane Stoever, his wife, also teaches and runs the domestic violence clinic at the UC Irvine School of Law.