East Bay Legislators Call For Stringent Gun Control Laws

Asm. Bill Quirk at the State Building in Oakland.

ASSEMBLY//OAKLAND/GUNS | Lest we forget the East Bay is still a bastion of liberalism, a few of its Democratic legislators Friday reminded voters, even though societal factors like unemployment and an eroding middle class may be a cause for rising gun violence, firearms are also to blame.

Although Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Sen. Loni Hancock targeted guns and residual violence in the media and video games at Friday’s Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, it was freshman Assemblyman Bill Quirk who flashed the hottest rhetoric calling for more prohibitive gun control measures.

[SEE ALSO: Community Leaders Say Gun Violence Is A Public Health Crisis]

“We have a disconnect in the Legislature,” said Quirk of Republican colleagues who believe the use of firearms for personal protection and for sport are equal. “We know the best to get killed by a gun is to have a gun in your house for self-protection,” he said.

Quirk also applauded Skinner and Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s pending legislation to tax bullet sales. “You can’t shoot people if you don’t have ammunition,” Quirk said.

Oakland Mayor Jean, Alameda County Sup.
Wilma Chan, Asm. Rob Bonta, Oakland
Interim Police Chief Sean Whent

The best way to promote safety, Quirk said, is to prohibit guns, except for sport. But, the East Bay is mostly an urban landscape, he says. “In the area we come from guns are for killing people.” He also skewered conservative second amendment proponents for their strict constructionist beliefs over the right to bear arms. “They claim to follow the Founding Fathers,” Quirk said, “but they don’t.”

Skinner and Hancock agreed with Quirk’s interpretation of the second amendment and its adherents.

“It says a regulated militia,” said Hancock. “It doesn’t say anybody can carry anything anywhere they are.” She added, “Limiting access to guns is a part of the solution.”

Just the presence of guns in the home is a problem, said Skinner, who said, “I vary on notion on the second amendment.”

“The presence of guns in homes does nothing for public safety,” she said. Skinner also advocated for “limiting” the number of firearms and ammunition available. This year, Skinner advanced various gun control bills in the Assembly expressly aimed at slowing the proliferation of guns on the streets.

Oakland Councilman Noel Gallo

However, she said, “Legislation alone won’t be enough.”

Later, Skinner faulted the federal government for failing to pass meaningful gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shootings last December that killed 20 elementary school children and six adults.

Although Friday’s assembly hearing was chaired by Bonta, who represents Oakland, San Leandro and Alameda, he offered none of the heated rhetoric of his fellow lawmaker other than to promote a discussion on how to find solutions to lower crime in Oakland, including its perception of lawlessness, seen by many in the surrounding East Bay.

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