California Gun Laws Couldn’t Stop Santa Clarita Shooter

By Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.
November 26, 2019 Updated: November 26, 2019

News Analysis

Despite California’s myriad gun control laws, none of them were able to prevent the senseless slaughter of two teenagers when a gunman opened fire on his classmates in a murderous rampage at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Nov. 14.

Groups like the National Rifle Association have maintained for decades that gun laws restrict only those who choose to abide by them—not those who don’t.

“California has more than 800 gun laws on the books, making it one of the strictest states in the country regarding firearms. Despite these measures, criminals continue to break the law,” said NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter to The Epoch Times.

“Year after year, the state legislature enacts more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners while simultaneously pardoning criminals and reducing penalties for crime. If the state wants to get serious about crime reduction, it has to punish criminals and leave law-abiding citizens alone,” she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said the weapon used in the Santa Clarita shooting that claimed the lives of two students was a 1911-model “kit gun” assembled from parts. Also described as a “ghost gun,” the weapon was not registered and had no serial number.

Three other students were injured in the 16-second attack before the suspected gunman shot himself in the head on his sixteenth birthday and died one day later.

Although no motive for the shooting has been uncovered, Villanueva has said many times the attack was planned and deliberate.

In mid-October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 15 gun-related bills that expand California’s so-called “red flag laws,” making the state’s gun control laws the most restrictive in the nation, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. All of the new laws are to become effective on Sept. 1, 2020. One of them will allow employers, co-workers and teachers to seek “gun violence restraining orders” against anyone they suspect may pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “Children and adolescents have easy access to guns. Over five percent of high school students indicated that they carried a gun in the past month, and it is estimated that approximately one million children bring guns to school each year.”

Though the NRA estimates there are currently about 100 million gun-owners in the U.S., AACAP research indicates there may be about half that many.

“Almost one-third of all homes contain guns with estimates that 50 million Americans own 300 million guns. Despite continuing educational efforts, the majority of these guns are kept loaded, unlocked, and potentially accessible to children,” according to the AACAP. “Research indicates that if a gun is stored in a home, the risk of homicide increases threefold and the risk of suicide increases up to fivefold.”

Shortly after the Santa Clarita tragedy, some media outlets and gun control advocates responded with calls for more firearms legislation, restrictions, and bans.

At a campaign rally in August, President Donald Trump blamed mental illness—and a shortage of treatment facilities—for the rise in mass shootings.

“We are working very hard to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of insane people, and those who are mentally sick and shouldn’t have guns. But people have to remember, however, that there is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s the person holding the gun,” said Trump to supporters in Manchester, N.H.

“We’re going to have to give major consideration to building new facilities for those in need. We have to do it, and at the same time we will be taking mentally deranged and dangerous people off the street so we won’t have to worry so much about that—a big problem. We don’t have those institutions anymore and people can’t get proper care. There are seriously ill people and they’re on the streets,” said Trump, referring to the widespread closure of mental hospitals over the last few decades.

Trump has also expressed support for the constitutional right of law-abiding American citizens to bear arms, which was upheld in 2016 by the Supreme Court of the United States. The court ruled that the Second Amendment covers all forms of bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the country’s founding, and that this right is fully applicable to all states.

“We can’t make it harder for good, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves,” Trump said at the rally. “We will always uphold the right to self-defense and we will always uphold the Second Amendment. We will.”

Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.