California lawmakers passed three gun control bills Monday, including a lifetime ban on owning firearms for people convicted of domestic violence, days after a gunman in Jacksonville, Florida opened fire at a video game tournament, killing two people and injuring 14.
The Democratic-controlled legislature sent the domestic violence bill, as well as two other measures — a lifetime ban on people placed on involuntary psychiatric holds twice in one year and new standard for residents to obtain a concealed weapon permit (eight hours of training and pass a live-fire shooting test) — to Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) desk for consideration.
“We must do more to ensure the safety of our survivors of domestic violence,” said Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D) on Monday, of the bill that extends the current 10-year ban.
The measures still await Brown’s signature, but California will likely soon join 26 states that have passed at least 55 new gun control laws, according to a July report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence — a significant spike following the Parkland, Florida high school massacre in February, when a gunman killed 17 people, sparking a youth-led activist movement.
Nine of the 26 states recently passed measures aimed at preventing domestic violence offenders from getting guns. Oregon became the first state to pass any kind of gun control legislation since the Parkland shooting; state lawmakers closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” banning those convicted of domestic violence against partners they aren’t married to from purchasing guns.
Federal law prohibits people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and abusers subject to protective orders from purchasing and possessing firearms. But there are significant limitations. For example, federal law does not apply to family members other than a spouse or a child. It also does not include non-spouse relationships, such as girlfriends and friends, and does not apply to stalkers. Nor does the law require convicts to surrender their guns. This is why state lawmakers enact their own measures.
California has among the strongest laws prohibiting domestic abusers from getting guns, according the Giffords Law Center. Currently, the state bans the purchase and possession of guns and ammunition of any person convicted of assault, battery, or stalking regardless of their relationship with the victim/survivor. If Brown signs the measure into law, it’ll be a lifetime ban.
These measures are common sense, as there’s a clear link between domestic abuse and gun violence. Research shows a significant corollary between domestic violence and mass shootings; indeed, even the Parkland shooter was reportedly abusive to his ex-girlfriend. Domestic abusers with guns pose an even deadlier threat to their partners and are five times more likely to kill them.
Despite this connection, Florida’s gun control measures relating to domestic violence are weak by comparison. (Lawmakers in Florida did pass a few gun control measures after Parkland, like raising the minimum age for all gun purchases, after more than 20 years of inaction.) It’s unclear if stricter gun laws on domestic violence offenders would have prevented any one of the mass shootings the state has had to grapple with, including the one over the weekend. But it’s also true that it wouldn’t hurt. And tightening up federal law could help save more lives by addressing another public health problem: domestic violence.