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Skelton: Newsom state budget should be spent on gun control

Sacramento’s safe is overflowing with taxpayer dollars, and much should be spent on efforts to reduce gun deaths.

A tiny fraction will be, as part of the plans of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic lawmakers who control the Legislature. But many more should.

A good place to spend the money would be to stimulate local “red flag” programs aimed at seizing the guns of people tried in court as potential killers, based on their threats and actions.

The state has a program in desperate need of help – financial and leadership – that is supposed to confiscate firearms from people who are not legally allowed to own them. This includes criminals, domestic abusers and some mentally ill. But the seizures of firearms are well behind schedule.

Another great place to spend the state’s excess money would be community-based nonprofits that try to point violent and armed youth in the right direction. Some non-profit organizations are in fact online for significant state aid.

Newsom and the legislature have an unanticipated record of $ 38 billion in excess tax revenue to spend however they want. This is in addition to a $ 38 billion windfall that is to be allocated to K-12 schools, community colleges, savings and debt repayment.

The legislature’s deadline for passing the state’s base budget – set at $ 267 billion – is Tuesday. But there will be more budget writing after that. Many details of the expenses will follow in the so-called follow-up invoices which must be promulgated before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

The governor and the legislature have many pressing priorities for money. They include fighting forest fires, alleviating drought and tackling homelessness.

But we are in an epidemic of gun violence, caused in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gun purchases have increased, as has gun violence. And it is not a hazard.

“Several studies have linked short-term increases in gun purchases to subsequent increases in violence,” says Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Violence Prevention Research Program. Davis.

“What is concerning now is that we have been buying guns at levels well above normal for over a year and we still are. I think we are facing a very long time. difficult ahead …. Preliminary data suggests that the increase in violence continued in the first months of 2021. “

There was a 66% increase in handgun purchases in California from March 1, 2020 to May 1 of this year compared to the previous 14 months, according to one estimate.

Meanwhile, there has been a massive 46% increase in gun violence in California, said MP Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), a shootout prevention activist.

“In part, it’s because domestic violence has increased,” she says. “People have suffered economic hardship. The children were not in school.

It’s not that California particularly needs tougher gun control laws. He is already leading the nation in gun restrictions. But not all of them are implemented as expected.

For starters, one major restriction – the ban on owning high-capacity ammunition stores – was blocked by lawsuits brought by the gun lobby. The same goes for buyers of balls subject to background checks.

The San Jose mass gunman who killed nine colleagues at a rail yard last month was armed with 32 prohibited large capacity magazines and 400 bullets.

“When we have these mass shootings, they make a lot of news,” Wicks says. “But the point is, in a lot of our communities this violence happens every day.”

“California has good laws in place that have helped reduce gun violence,” she adds. “The problem is that guns keep coming in from Arizona, Nevada and other states that don’t have good laws. “

Wicks is a CalVIP – California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program booster. It is made up of local associations that work with young people at risk.

In Oakland, a CalVIP group is notified by police or a hospital when a gunshot victim is admitted to an emergency room. Trained staff members will speak to the injured victim, his family and friends, often gang members.

“We try to deter them and avoid retaliation,” says Anne Marks, executive director of Youth Alive in Oakland. “We continue to work with them in the community. We have a team that tries to mediate conflicts between groups.

Newsom and the legislature have placed $ 200 million in the proposed budget for CalVIP groups. The grants will be distributed over three years.

There’s also $ 10 million in grants to help local law enforcement accomplish what the state has fallen for: confiscating guns illegally held by bad guys.

There is about $ 18 million for the state program called the Armed and Prohibited Persons System, or APPS. It’s pretty much the same as this year. But there was a backlog on Jan. 1 of about 23,600 Californians who illegally owned firearms.

The state’s Justice Department argues that it cannot recruit enough officers to seize the guns because the work is risky and the pay is uncompetitive.

“I will rename the Department of Justice the Department of Apologies,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff). “They don’t make APPS a priority. It’s that simple.”

New condition Atty. General Rob Bonta denies this.

“It’s a top priority,” Bonta insists. “I want to prove they are wrong.

In addition, there is virtually nothing in the budget for red flag laws to confiscate the guns of people – like the San Jose shooter – suspected of being armed and dangerous. The program relies on snitching by family members, co-workers or exes.

But not enough people know about the program. It needs a massive injection of public service announcements.

Liberal Democrats like Newsom are still demanding tighter gun control. Fine. But they must back up their rhetoric with money. And right now there are plenty.

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