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Gun Violence: Closing Loopholes

CARSON, Calif --- As families and communities are routinely decimated by gun violence, we have the audacity to look into the faces of grieving mothers and tell them that we have done the best that we could.

It’s true that California has been a leader in gun violence prevention and on the forefront of reform for the past 30 years. While actively supporting those efforts, I am acutely aware that there is immense work to do. I represent the communities of Compton, South Los Angeles, Watts, Wilmington and others whose residents will vehemently tell you that not enough is being done to curb gun violence. These communities are not the exception. They mirror numerous communities up and down the state.

This past legislative session I was an author of House Resolution 52, which recognized June 2nd as National Gun Violence Awareness Day. This resolution is a testament to all the work we have done and will continue to do for people who are victims of a seemingly endless amount of shootings every year.

Soon after the attack in San Bernardino, I introduced Assembly Bill 1673 which sought to clear the streets of "ghost guns." These guns can be easily built at home with 3-D printers or tools from a hardware store. They are used without proper registration and are untraceable to law enforcement. Easily hidden from authorities, they are increasingly used in organized crime, arms trafficking and murder. As an ex-police officer, I have a profound respect for firearms and law abiding gun owners, but I will not stop fighting those who seek to plague our communities with gun violence.

Much to my surprise, I recently discovered that it is legally permissible to open-carry long guns in unincorporated areas in California. Once considered as hunting rifles or military weapons, these guns have comfortably found their way to parts of our cities where it is legal to carry an unloaded AR-15 or AK-47. This is a completely unacceptable loophole. The flaunting of assault weapons invites violence, confusion and fear.

Mass shootings garner world-wide headlines. Yet, there is little recognition for the men; women; and children of my district who are killed nearly every day. At the end of each assembly legislative floor session, we are allowed to adjourn in memory of someone who has passed away. I am heartbroken and tired of adjourning in memory of residents who have died due to gun violence. I take a tough position on this issue and will continue an unwavering commitment to represent those who cannot speak up for themselves.

After a highly divisive election year where all civility and normality was thrown out the window for political gain, we simply must come together and advance policies in the best interest of public safety. The Trump administration may seek to tear down every possible attempt we make towards sensible gun laws. We will fight this at every step and reject the rhetoric of hate, division, mistrust and an irrational fear of government. I will continue to stand with my colleagues in the Legislature, gun safety advocates and all of my constituents to reduce gun violence in California. I believe we have what it takes to rise above political division and enact laws that will strengthen public safety and reduce the plague of gun violence. I will never stop fighting for the right for residents to live in a safe and prosperous community.

Assemblymember Gipson represents the 64th Assembly District which includes Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South L.A., Torrance, Watts/Willowbrook and Wilmington.