SAN DIEGO – As a group of bipartisan senators announced a “commonsense proposal” Sunday to stem the tide of gun violence in the U.S., some San Diegans say the deal would be a step in the right direction, even if it’s not everything they’d hoped.
The deal, rolled out by a group of 20 senators led by Sens. Chris Murphy and John Cornyn, was hailed by President Biden as possibly “the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”
On both sides of the issue, locals agree there are good parts to the proposed bill, a nine-point bipartisan plan setting up red flag laws, investing in mental health services, and strengthening criminal background check requirements for those under age 21.
But both also agree this gun safety measure agreement is not all that needs to be done.
“It’s good. It doesn’t go far enough, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Carole Landale, executive director of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention. Officials with the non-profit said they are pleased to see the conversation on gun safety.
The San Diego County Gun Owners PAC said the agreement is good in some parts, but also concerning.
Michael Schwartz, executive director of the political action committee, said, “I’m not totally sold this entire bill is a great idea. I think there is a long way to go.”
The agreement requires anyone under 21 years old who wants to buy a gun to have juvenile mental health records reviewed. It would also give money to encourage states to enact red flag laws that would remove guns from potentially dangerous people — laws that are already in place in California.
“We have to go incrementally. Having funding for red flag laws to incentive states, that’s huge. We are very encouraged by that,” Landale said.
Schwartz adds, “I would have liked to seen, if we are going to fund these red flag laws, we really need to define what is and isn’t OK, what is and isn’t legal, and talk more about the protections for people that are falsely accused.”
The group of senators said the legislation will extend the boyfriend loophole, which bans people from owning guns if they’ve been convicted of domestic violence against a dating partner. Currently convicted abusers who are married to, live with, or have a child with are also barred.
The deal also gives money for mental health services and boosts school safety.
Landale said, “children are terrified to go to school, there is something wrong,” She said the gun violence in this country is “It’s getting completely out of control.”
Schwartz said that part of the legislation needs more detail.
“But they didn’t really talk about, what or how or where none of the details are there we want to help secure the schools and kind of throwing money at it. School security big positive. Concerning they aren’t the details we need yet,” Schwartz said.
A lot of work still needs to be done for the bill to become law. Also recognized by gun control advocates is that the proposal falls short of reforms championed by Biden and other Democrats such as banning assault weapons and mandating universal background checks.
Landale said, “I just have to hope they are going to realize that this is not about taking your guns away. Because they keep coming back to this thought that if they allow this one law to pass the federal government will confiscate all our guns, and that’s completely wrong.”
On Monday, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer will ask the board of supervisors to give the council the ability to identify lawsuits to enter into against gun manufacturers to hold them accountable for shootings.
That will be held at the county administration building at 12:30 p.m.