A joint Senate/Assembly hearing designed to create a groundwork for controlling gun violence has highlighted the different approaches between Democrats and Republicans.
Both sides seemed to be backing more money for the Department of Justice’s program to identify and remove guns from criminals, the mentally ill, and violence prone individuals prohibited from obtaining guns.
When told that catching up with the backlog of 19,000 individuals who are breaking the law would cost up to $25 million , Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says it might be worth the cost despite a pledge to be prudent with this year’s budget.
“If there is any area of common agreement, it’s that we ought get those guns out of the hands of people who are prohibited. (It) would be a very wise and worthy investment,” said Steinberg.
Republicans had proposed in its gun legislation package that extra money be spent on clearing the Department of Justice backlog.
“To me, the issue isn’t the firearm that’s used, it’s the person using it,” said Assembly Member Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore.
But that may be where the common ground ends. The joint hearing’s co-chair Democratic Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley wanted a base of information from which solutions to gun violence could be crafted.
Democrats have introduced a basket of bills that include restricting. But Republicans backed by gun owners are intent on regulating criminals and the mentally ill, not guns or gun owners.
“It will not solve the issue to take guns away from all the people who did not commit the Newtown shooting,” said Assembly Member Marie Waldron, (R) Escondido.
They agree with gun owner groups who believe that gun control will not prevent mass shootings because guns aren’t the problem. They insist that controls are needed on criminals and the mentally ill.
“As long as we concentrate on gun control and not on controlling people who have mental deficiencies and who are criminals we will continue to have these tragedies,” said Sam Paredes, Executive Director of the Gun Owners of California.