East Bay Legislators Call for Tougher Gun Control Laws

By Bay City News
|  Monday, Sep 9, 2013  |  Updated 9:07 PM PDT
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East Bay Legislators Call for Tougher Gun Control Laws

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Two East Bay state legislators on Monday called for their colleagues and Gov. Jerry Brown to approve tougher gun control bills before the current legislative session ends later this week.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said the bills are needed because "people are dying on the streets from gun violence," citing the shooting death of a man near Eighth and Page streets in Berkeley at about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday as an example.

Joined by community and religious leaders at a news conference on the steps of the Beebe Memorial Cathedral on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Skinner said, "Every day we wake up to news about another victim of gun violence."

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, said, "We're at a very important stage and we need to move the needle to save lives. Oakland is hurting from gun violence."

Bonta and Skinner both called on Gov. Brown, who formerly served as Oakland's mayor, to sign a bill already approved by the state Legislature, Assembly Bill 180, that would pre-empt state law and provide Oakland with additional tools to regulate the registration and licensing of firearms.

Skinner said, "All communities aren't equal" and "some cities don't need their own gun laws" but cities such as Oakland, Richmond and Fresno "need the tools" to have tougher gun registration and licensing laws.

Skinner said she'd like the state Legislature to pass two other gun control measures, which she authored, by the end of the week.

She said AB 48 would ban kits that convert guns into assault-type weapons and make it illegal to buy large-capacity magazines that allow people to fire multiple bullets quickly without reloading.

Skinner said, "Assault weapons have been banned in California for a long time but people can get around that by buying a conversion kit that allows them to take a gun cartridge out and put in a high-capacity magazine."

Skinner said AB 1131 would extend the time period a person who makes a credible threat of violence is prohibited from owning firearms from six months to five years.

She thinks such a ban would prevent tragedies such as a shooting at Oikos University in Oakland in April 2011 in which suspect One Goh is charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder for allegedly killing seven people and wounding three others.

A judge suspended legal proceedings against Goh in January and said he's not competent to stand trial after two psychiatrists said he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Emeryville police Chief Ken James, who serves as chair of the California' Police Chief Association's firearms committee, said tougher gun laws are needed because gun violence "has reached epidemic proportions in our core inner cities."

James said, "One bill won't solve all the factors that lead to
shooting but it will address at least some of those factors."

James said AB 48, which would ban conversion kits, is especially important because it would address "the lethality of the weapons we face."

He said some guns that are converted into assault weapons "can fire 150 rounds of ammunition in a matter of seconds."

Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley called on Brown to sign Bonta's bill and any other gun control legislation that comes to his desk because Brown has said public safety is one of his priorities.

McBride said Brown and the state Legislature shouldn't delay bills that he said "will allow lives to be saved.

Gun violence, McBride said, "is a moral issue that we must respond to today."

Four Oakland City Council members and Berkeley City Councilwoman Linda Maio attended the news conference to join Skinner and Bonta in calling for tougher gun control laws.

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