Ethan Explains California Proposition 63
This is number 13 of 17 of the California statewide ballot initiatives in 2016 that I’ll cover. Proposition 63 is the “The Safety for All Act of 2016.” Also known as the “Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban.”
Who doesn’t want to reduce the murder rate?
Proposition 63 claims to reduce gun crimes in the state of California by requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition, banning possession of large capacity magazines, increasing penalties for theft of firearms, and requiring reporting for those thefts.
Requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition
This is a newer approach by gun control advocates. The claim is that a criminal in possession of an illegal firearm still needs to buy ammunition. If we make the purchase of ammunition more difficult, they will commit fewer crimes with firearms. On the face of it, that appears logical. However, Illinois has already had this type of rule in effect for years. Yet, we consistently hear about the out of control murder rate in Chicago. The law doesn’t stop criminals and this approach hasn’t worked in Illinois other than inconveniencing legal firearm owners.
Banning possession of high capacity magazines
California banned the purchase of high capacity magazines in 2000. They are magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Proposition 63 seeks to outlaw them completely, including possession. So, a firearm owner who legally purchased on before 2000 will be required to dispose of it or sell it out-of-state if this initiative passes. The argument for this is that no reasonable person needs this kind of firepower. And the argument against is that these are used for sport shooting and jam quite frequently so any criminal who uses one has a significantly reduced chance of success. I am neutral on this argument.
Increasing penalties for theft of firearms
Right now in California, due to Prop 47, theft of a firearm valued less than $950 is petty theft. The maximum penalties for most petty theft convictions are a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), up to six (6) months in county jail, or both. And right now, maximum penalties for petty theft are not happening. Proposition 63 will recategorize ALL firearm thefts to felony with up to 3 years in prison, as they were before Prop 47. I strongly support this portion of the initiative.
Requiring reporting for firearm thefts
Under this initiative, sellers of ammunition would need to report a theft or loss within 48 hours. Individuals would be required to report a theft or loss within five days to local law enforcement. Right now, many criminals are acquiring their firearms through theft, like the Kate Steinle killer. In order to help law enforcement track stolen firearms a reporting requirement is a sensible approach. Plus, any rational firearm owner would want law enforcement to know the date their weapon was stolen so if it is used in a crime in the future, they aren’t a suspect. This section is entirely logical.
The problem with Proposition 63, like so many others, is that instead of focusing on a single issue, many are combined into one. I can support portions of this initiative, but not others. Further, this is a political move by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to burnsih his anti-gun credentials before the 2018 gubernatorial election. Infringing constitutional rights without evidence to support the intended conclusion sits poorly with me. Properly use the legislature to pass the reasonable sections.
I say NO to Proposition 63.
Tune in to The Ethan Bearman Show Monday through Friday, noon to 2 p.m. on KGO 810 – www.kgoradio.com