California’s strict gun laws don’t eliminate violence, but they have helped

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — California has a reputation as a tough place to buy a gun. It’s home to mandatory waiting periods and background checks for firearms

purchases. It bans so-called military-style assault weapons, one of just eight states, plus D.C., with such a law. And in 2016, it became one of the first states to pass a

red-flag law, which allows authorities to remove firearms from someone believed to be a danger to themselves or others. California’s patchwork of gun laws has been judged

the strongest in the nation by the gun-control advocacy group Giffords. But Saturday night’s horrific mass killing at a Monterey Park dance hall shows how the state’s

strict gun laws are incapable of fully preventing gun violence in a country where gun ownership is widely considered a constitutionally protected right, firearms move freely

between states with vastly different regulations, and gun control measures are dotted with exceptions. Yet California’s problem with gun violence does remain

significantly smaller than in most other states, which advocates credit to the rules that are on the books. Authorities had not said Sunday afternoon how the alleged

gunman in the mass killing obtained his weapon or what kind of firearm was used. California’s more stringent gun safety measures stemmed from an explosion of shootings

decades ago, including the 1989 slaughter of children in a Stockton schoolyard and a 199 mass killing in a law office in downtown San Francisco. Sen. Dianne Feinstein

(D-Calif.) was among the main advocates of a 10-year national assault weapons ban passed in 1994. The federal measure was not renewed after it expired in 2004.