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As most of us know, terrorism and gun violence has seemed to increase greatly in the United States in recent years. It is believed that the solution to this problem is to make it so that it is difficult for just anyone to purchase guns, ammunition, and to even ban some guns that people are currently able to purchase and own. At this time in California, citizens must go through a background check to purchase firearms, but it is believed that this is not enough. Proposition 63 “The Safety for All Act”, states that citizens of California should not only have to go through a thorough background check to purchase firearms, but ammunition as well; it also prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and creates several other laws and regulations that I will reveal later. Will the end result of this proposition benefit the people of California and will it prevent terrorism and gun violence? The answer is no, by passing the “Safety for All Act”, innocent gun owners in California will only be troubled and several will be more likely to become criminals for committing the small petty crimes that will be put into effect if this proposition is passed. Yes, gun violence and terrorism is a problem, but Proposition 63 is not the solution to this dilemma.
Throughout proposition 63, there are several new laws and restrictions that will be put into effect, after passed. This includes the restriction or possessing a large-capacity magazine; if one is obtained, citizens must “surrender [it] to a law enforcement agency for destruction” (Newsom). Large –capacity magazines are typically used either by the military or law enforcement, but in some cases they are owned by everyday citizens; not that it is absolutely necessary for every day citizens to own these, but if they were to be banned from them, it would make it more difficult to be reached by law enforcement. Proposition 63 states that this is a problem because firearms holding large capacity magazines are more often used in acts of gun violence and terrorism; the reasoning for this is because it can target and large amount of people in a quicker amount of time. Large capacity magazines should not be banned from anyone in the public who owns them legally. By doing this, citizens’ rights are taken away and they may become more susceptible to do what they think they have to do to keep these items in their possession. If the law is put into place, and a person is found to be in possession of a large-capacity magazine, they will be in trouble with the law. This will happen more often than it does not, and when it does it will, as stated in Ballotpedia, “overburden an already overcrowded court system with the enforcement of flawed laws that will turn harmless, law-abiding citizens into criminals” (Beran), meaning that courts will be filled with people being charged for small, flawed crimes, more often than criminals who are doing harm to the public.
Not only does the banning of large-capacity magazines cause issues for the public of California, it could do so for law enforcement as well. While providing information about proposition 63 Ballotpedia reveals that it “would divert scarce law enforcement resources away from local law enforcement” (Beran). In the proposition, it is stated that large-capacity magazines will be banned from being in the state, so they will be held elsewhere in the United States. In order for law enforcement to obtain more of these resources when needed it will need to be transported to them, rather than having them at hand whenever needed. This not only becomes problematic for law enforcement since they will have less access to necessary equipment, but to the public as well, because they will not be protected by the government to its full ability. This is only one reason of many why law enforcement groups are in contradiction of Proposition 63.
Several law enforcement officers have made statements against the “Safety for All Act” not only because it may become a problem for them specifically, but because it will result in becoming a problem for the general public. Sheriff Tom Bosenko, Sheriff of Shasta County, has stated that “[Proposition 63] really fails to hold the criminals responsible for gun related crimes, [it] is bad for gun owners and bad for California” (Action News Now). This means that government is not really taking away the rights of criminals and preventing them from obtaining firearms illegally, they are taking rights away from innocent citizens, because they will be the ones receiving punishment. Innocent citizens will be going through the burdens of going through a background check every few years to receive a permit to purchase ammunition. On top of the cost of ammunition, which will more than likely increase after the act is put into effect, they will have to pay for the background check and permit. They will also more than likely break one of the small crimes or restrictions that are stated throughout the proposition and have to deal with paying a fine or attending court, even though they had the right to partake in many of these matters since gun rights were put into effect in the late 1700s, when the 2nd Amendment was created. In some cases, the punishments for these petty laws may go even further, and some may be finding themselves having to spend some period of time in jail. In this case, the number of inmates would increase, meaning that taxes would increase as well for the funding for state jails. The funding for the act itself to be put into place would also increase taxes, since more background checks by the state and federal systems would have to be completed, and large capacity magazines would have to be transported to and from the state continuously for the use of law enforcement.
Some say that one of the solutions to solving the dilemma of the wrong people getting their hands on firearms and ammunition is to “strengthen our background check systems and ensure the California law enforcement shares data about dangerous people with the FBI” (O’Malley). Sure, this resolution may sound great, but criminals are criminals and they are not going to stop breaking the law. There will always be bad people out in the world, near and far that break the law and will illegally get a firearm in their hands and cause destruction. Proposition 63 is not going to solve this problem, simply because for one, as stated by Nancy O’Malley, “terrorists don’t follow the law” (O’Malley), they are going to find other ways to obtain firearms, other than having to go through the stricter background checks that will be put into effect. When it becomes more difficult to steal from citizens because they will be forced to tell the law when their firearms are stolen or missing, they will use the black market to get their goods, or make them, as they currently do.
In a document composed by the Office of the Attorney General, statistics were gathered in 2014 of firearms that were used in crimes within the year. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, reveals that “None of the firearms examined were confirmed to have been reported stolen” although, “ownership status was not determined for many of the firearms examined” (Harris). Even though the weapons were not reported stolen, ownership was not identified, meaning that the firearms were either stolen from an unknown source, or obtained illegally, since there were not any records that showed ownership by the criminals committing the crimes. Harris also states that “six firearms were submitted with the serial numbers removed” (Harris), so even if these six were reported stolen, there would not be a way of finding this out if the criminals removed the serial numbers that would identify the true owners. This reveals that criminal always find a way to illegally get their hands on firearms. Proposition 63 is not going to solve these problems, it is only going to waste tax-payers money.
Instead of the government spending millions of dollars every year by passing Proposition 63, something should be done to keep the people safe. A better solution would be to “educate more Californians about what they can do to protect their families and communities from terrorist attacks or to further train law enforcement to do so” (O’Malley). Because there are always going to be bad people in the world and sometimes it is hard to prevent them from obtaining the resources they need to cause chaos, it is better for the public to be educated on how to handle the situation and for them to also have all the resources they need to protect themselves and their families. Not only is this knowledge a great benefit for the public, it is for law enforcement as well, because they will have a greater ability to help protect the public. Therefore, Proposition 63 is a poor solution to gun violence and terrorism, it will only make greater chances for innocent citizens to become criminals, waste great amounts of tax-payers’ money on funding for the proposition after it is put into effect, and prevent law enforcement from protecting the public to their full ability.
- Action News Now Staff. “Three county sheriffs ‘strongly oppose’ Prop 63’s potential gun controls.” 29 August 2016. Action News Now. News Ariticle. 20 September 2016. <http://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/three-county-sheriffs-strongly-oppose-prop-63-s-potential-gun-controls/>.
- Beran, Jackie, et al. California Proposition 63, Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban (2016). Ed. Jason Swadley. 19 Septemeber 2016. Document. 20 September 2016. <https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_63,_Background_Checks_for_Ammunition_Purchases_and_Large-Capacity_Ammunition_Magazine_Ban_(2016)>.
- Harris, Kamala D. “2014 Firearms Used in the Commission of Crimes.” 2014. Office of the Attorney General-California Department of Justice. Document. 20 Septemeber 2016. <https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/publications/firearms-report-14.pdf>.
- Newsom, Gavin and Thomas A. Willis. “The Safety for All Act of 2016.” 15 December 2015. State of California Department of Justice; Office of the Attorney General. Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, LLP . Document. 20 September 2016. <https://www.oag.ca.gov/system/files/initiatives/pdfs/15-0098%20(Firearms)_0.pdf>.
- O’Malley, Nancy, et al. Prop 63 Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute. 2016. California Secretary of State. Document. 20 September 2016. <http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/propositions/63/arguments-rebuttals.htm>.
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