‘Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough:' Oakland Leaders Proposes Gun Laws, Banning Large Capacity Magazines

As critics point to Congress's inaction over gun regulations, some of Oakland’s leaders want to crack down on gun ownership, proposing new requirements for storing firearms in homes and vehicles and banning high-capacity magazines.

"Thoughts and prayers are not enough," Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, one of the ordinance's authors, said in reference to members of Congress who won't beef up gun laws, but offer condolences after the many mass shootings in the United States. "We must take action. We do pray for those who have suffered, but we want to stop the suffering, we want to crack down on the illegal guns  and stop making them so available and take this danger out of this community.”

Along with Kaplan, Council members Dan Kalb, Anne Campbell Washington and City Attorney Barbara Parker held a Friday morning news conference to introduce three ordinance proposals. Campbell Washington said they were making a point to address gun legislation at the local level because of the "failure" on the federal level.

"If we can make it harder for people to have access to these, it will save lives," Kalb said.

The proposals are:

  • Large Capacity Magazine Ban, making it illegal within Oakland for any person to possess any large-capacity magazine except as authorized by law, whether assembled or disassembled.
  • Oakland’s Safe Storage Firearms Act, making it illegal for anyone to keep a firearm in a home unless the firearm is stored in a locked container, or the firearm is disabled with a trigger lock.
  • 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 to 6,031 auto burglaries.  As of now, auto burglaries in 2015 total 7,411, city data shows.

The ordinances would also establish a resolution directing the city administrator to return in four months with legislation requiring safe storage of city-issued firearms in motor vehicles. The proposals will be discussed at a public safety committee meeting on Dec. 15, and possibly go to the full council in January.

"I run into mothers every day at the grocery store who say, 'Enough,' " Campbell Washington said. "I see little Oakland students in elementary school who suffer PTSD because of the gun violence in their neighborhoods."

Police Chief Sean Whent said the new laws would prohibit high-capacity magazines that were bought before the federal ban and grandfathered in, and he said that would make it less likely to get into the wrong hands.

And it's not just regular people who have their cars broken into. Police officers have been victims, too, and their guns have been stolen out of their vehicles.

Handguns stolen from law enforcement officers' cars this year  were used in the San Francisco killing of Kate Steinle in July and Oakland muralist Antonio Ramos in September. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered that more than 500 weapons have gone missing from eight different law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area since 2010.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos has been championing stricter gun laws as well, following Steinle's death. In September, Campos proposed making it illegal for anyone to leave a gun in a parked car unless it's in a lock box or locked trunk.

And California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a 2016 ballot initiative that would ask voters to strengthen the state's gun laws by restricting ammunition sales, requiring owners to turn in assault-style magazines that have a large capacity and requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement.

If adopted, the proposal would make California the first state in the nation to require background checks at the point of sale for ammunition, although other states require purchasers to obtain licenses and go through background checks ahead of time.

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