Oakland city council members are poised to vote on a series of gun laws Tuesday night, hours after President Barack Obama issued executive gun control measures from the White House and wiped tears from his eyes for the first-graders killed at Sandy Hook.
The measures would ban all high capacity magazines and require gun owners to safely store their guns in lock boxes both at home and in their cars.
The timing was coincidental, but poignant.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, as well as council members Dan Kalb and Anne Campbell Washington, proposed the gun crackdowns in early December, shortly after 14 people were killed when a radicalized couple opened fire on a holiday party in San Bernardino County.
Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElehany knows painfully well how serious gun violence has become. Her grandson, 17-year-old Torian Hughes, was shot and killed during a robbery just days before Christmas.
"Somebody somewhere is profiting from this pain," Gibson McElehany said. "We know this is beyond personal choice, this is a public health crisis that puts our boys at risk."
Responsible Citizens of California, a gun owners group, called part of the proposal "an overreach" and promised a legal challenge.
"When it comes to banning standard capacity magazines, the City of Oakland will likely run afoul of state preemption laws, which dictate that local gun control laws cannot be stricter than state laws," Yih-Chau Chang, spokesperson for the group, said. "Banning grandfathered standard capacity magazines is an example of local overreach."
The proposals were first heard Dec. 15, during which the Public Safety Committee voted to recommend them for council adoption.
The proposals include:
- Large Capacity Magazine Ban, making it illegal within Oakland for any person to possess a large-capacity magazine except as authorized by law, whether assembled or disassembled. Police Chief Sean Whent has said the new laws would prohibit high-capacity magazines that were bought before the federal ban and grandfathered in, making them less likely to fall into the wrong hands.
- Oakland’s Safe Storage Firearms Act, making it illegal for anyone to keep a firearm in a home unless stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock. The Oakland Police Department told the East Bay Express the agency currently does not have any policies requiring guns be stored in locked boxes when in patrol cars or other vehicles, and the department is amenable to the change.
- Extend Oakland's Safe Storage Firearms Act to require safe storage of firearms in a vehicle for concealed carry licensees. The city of Oakland's crime statistics shows that auto burglaries are on the rise. In 2011, there were 3,292 auto burglaries and in 2012, that number almost doubled, with 6,031 auto burglaries. Auto burglaries in 2015 total 7,411, city data shows.
At the time, Kaplan said she co-authored these proposals because "thoughts and prayers are not enough," in reference to members of Congress who refuse to beef up gun laws, but offer condolences after the many mass shootings in the United States.
The National Rifle Association is the biggest opponent to both Obama's executive orders, which they said are "ripe for abuse," and to Oakland's gun crackdown.
To Obama, the NRA issued a statement charging the president has "chosen political rhetoric instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation's pressing problems."
"The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts," the statement said. The fact is that President Obama’s proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness."
The NRA has offered similar criticism to Oakland, to which Kaplan responded: "If the NRA wants guns to be easily stolen, then they don't care about safety — just about selling more guns — even if people die.”
Shatrice Broughton describes the shocking scene she witnessed in downtown Oakland Tuesday morning when a woman pushing a baby in a stroller was hit in the arm by a stray bullet.
"I'm outta Oakland - this don't make no sense - people don't have no consideration," she said. "If you want to stop gun crime you have toi stop the flood of illegal guns."