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article imageOakland may soon be able to make its own rules on gun control

By Karen Graham     Oct 11, 2013 in Politics
Oakland - Oakland, plagued with escalating gun violence, may become the only city in California to be able to make its own laws on the licensing and registration of guns, if Governor Jerry Brown signs AB180 by midnight Sunday.
Oakland, California is a city under siege, not by a foreign power, but by gun violence. With more than 3,026 shootings this year alone in a city of 400,000 people, Oakland has acquired the dubious distinction of having the most gun-related crimes in the state.
That could all change by Monday, Oct. 14. Gov. Brown has until midnight Sunday to sign legislation that would give Oakland the power to implement and have regulatory authority over gun sales and registrations. Oakland would also become the only city in California with this power.
California is already known for the strictest gun laws in the nation. All firearm sales, including private sales and sales at gun shows, must go through a state-licensed gun dealer. California's constitution also has no specific guarantees of a citizen's right to bear arms.
Even the already existing laws could not deter the wave of shootings and robberies Oakland ended up dealing with. Things came to a head earlier this year, when an 8-year-old girl died after being killed in a random drive-by shooting while attending a slumber party.
Oakland City Council members were outraged over the little girl's death, and this one event became the "straw that broke the camel's back." With public opinion riding high, council members looked into ways California gun laws could be circumvented, not to weaken them, but to strengthen Oakland's voice in making gun laws specific to, and fitting the city's problems.
The legislation formulated in the aftermath of the shooting, AB180, was sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), and proposes a "targeted approach" to gun control within the city giving regulatory decision-making over to local officials. The main focus of the bill is control over registration and licensing of commercial firearms.
But in a city where in-fighting among the council members is the norm, many question the groups ability to formulate any laws, let alone ones dealing with gun control. Besides that, the legislation does not address exactly how city officials are going to implement the legislation.
While it is obvious from the escalating crime figures that something needs to be done, and soon; it still rankles many people who see the law as setting an unwarranted precedent. Add to this the fact that there is a pile of bills awaiting the governor's signature, all dealing with different aspects of gun control. If all those bills are signed into law, there is the fear of California becoming a state under martial law, according to many.
The big question remains: Will even more restrictive and harsher gun laws make Oakland a safer place to live? Even the sponsor of the legislation, Rob Bonta, says his bill is not going to be a "cure-all." It could be argued that city officials need to look at the overall economic problems the state is mired in. Cuts in state funding resulted in cuts to Oakland's police department, and that could be an issue worth looking into.
More about Gun laws, Oakland, California, Violence
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