PD Editorial: A familiar plan for safer firearms laws

  • Assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in Springfield, Ill. President Barack Obama launched the most sweeping effort to curb U.S. gun violence in nearly two decades, announcing a $500 million package that sets up a fight with Congress over bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines just a month after a shooting in Connecticut killed 20 school children. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

No law is guaranteed to prevent a mass murder. Laws don't prevent speeding, tax evasion or drug abuse either.

Yet they're still on the books. Why? Because they promote public safety, and they establish standards of conduct in our communities. So will modest restrictions on gun ownership.

The proposals put forth by President Barack Obama are just that — modest restrictions to promote public safety by discouraging gun violence. They won't stop every massacre, but some lives will be saved.

Much of Obama's checklist already has been enacted in California — without infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens:

&#149 The manufacture, sale and possession of assault weapons is prohibited.

&#149 Ammunition magazines are limited to 10 rounds.

&#149 The sale and possession of armor-piercing ammunition is prohibited.

&#149 Background checks are required on all firearms sales.

Yet the state Department of Justice reported that more than 600,000 firearms were sold here in 2011, and the total was projected to top 700,000 last year. Despite the restrictions, gun sales have doubled since 2002.

Over approximately the same period, California's mandatory background checks resulted in a rejection rate of about 1 percent, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Justice Department.

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