In the midst of an era of gun violence, California is pioneering a novel way to tackle the issue of gun control. A bill set to take effect on July 1, 2019 will require all ammunition dealers in the state to maintain a log of their sales, including a detailed background check at the site of purchase (this law does not apply to ammunition being sold and used at a gun range only). However, the cities of Sacramento and Los Angeles have responded to the slow progress taken by the state legislature regarding restricting the sales of semi-automatic weapons by passing their own laws ahead of the state. These laws require ammunition sales to be regulated through the use of carefully kept records, but this law is nothing new for them. In addition to reducing criminal activity by providing law enforcement with a more accurate way to track illegally used guns, the measures taken by these city councils were developed in response to a rightful public outcry against mass shootings.
Although gun lobbies such as the National Rifle Association defend the stagnation of growth in regards to stricter, safer gun control under the guise of protecting the nation’s Second Amendment rights, the citizens of the country are the ones who suffer, not benefit, from this inaction. While the the NRA in particular claims that its agenda is driven by a desire to serve the interests of the nation, in reality their interests benefit only themselves (their solution to school shootings by increasing the production and distribution of guns supports this).
In reality, the Second Amendment is an antiquated law that was established in a wildly different historical context. To say that the amendment, which was ratified in 1791, when a skilled soldier could fire his musket up to three times in a single minute at most, is comparable to today, where an individual can fire 600 rounds in that same amount of time, is ridiculous. But still, in a nation where the deadliness of mass shootings is at an all-time high (with the exception of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that claimed 32 lives, the five most deadly shootings have occured within the past 10 years) the reasoning that the ability of a few to enjoy handling deadly weapons trumps the value of others’ lives is lackluster.
Unlike in the United States, in other Western nations, highly publicized mass shootings have the effect of compelling the countries’ governments to pass legislature that reduces the high mortality rates of separate shootings. For example, following the 1989 mass shooting that left 14 dead in a Montreal tech school, the Canadian government introduced a number of laws throughout the early 90’s that required registration of all firearms, banned the sale of high-capacity cartridges and severely reduced the distribution of semi-automatic, automatic and paramilitary guns. Actually, each of the gun-fueled massacres that have occured in Canada since the 1989 shooting have all claimed less than 10 victims, as opposed to the high death toll of American shootings. Similarly, Australia’s 1996 Port Arthur massacre prompted its government to enact similar restrictions, reducing the mortality rate of individual shootings in the country to less than 10. By contrast, the most deadly shootings in American history, the Las Vegas, Orlando and Virginia Tech shootings have each taken 58, 49 and 32 lives respectively.
However, California’s decision to monitor the sale of ammunition in their state more closely represents a positive change for national gun safety and for the citizens of America. Despite certain lobbyists’ efforts to impede gun reform in the nation in general, this state in particular serves as an example to others, perhaps for the rest of the country, in regards to their determination to improve gun control and prevent mass-shootings.