Alarmed that the gun used in a mass shooting in Gilroy was bought legally in Nevada, two dozen California legislators on Wednesday asked their counterparts in the neighboring state to meet this fall to discuss strengthening restrictions on firearms.
The unusual proposal was made in a letter to Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, who is a Democrat, and the Democrat-controlled Legislature just weeks after a 19-year-old resident of that state opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California, killing three people and wounding 13.
“While California has enacted numerous gun safety measures, this tragedy underscores the need for California to work closely with neighboring states to close loopholes and advance common sense gun safety measures,” said the letter signed by 27 Democratic legislators including Assembly members Jesse Gabriel of Encino, Reginald Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles and Buffy Wicks of Oakland.
Gunman Santino William Legan bought the semiautomatic rifle legally in Nevada less than three weeks before the July 28 attack. The weapon, which authorities describe as a military-style AK-47, cannot be legally purchased in California or imported into the state, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
California also bans the sale or possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, but authorities said Legan, who was fatally shot by police officers, had a 75-round drum magazine and five 40-round magazines.
Gabriel said there are two California laws he would like to see adopted in Nevada that would have blocked the Gilroy shooter _ a ban on assault weapons and a prohibition on selling guns to anyone under age 21.
“This shooting in Gilroy was a reminder that lax gun laws in other states impact our safety here in California,” Gabriel said.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced 1,554 guns recovered in California in 2017 to original purchases in Nevada, with many of them found at crime scenes, confiscated from criminals or found unclaimed.
The letter from California lawmakers supports Nevada’s recent passage of gun control legislation including Senate Bill 143, which mandates background checks for private-party gun sales. The measure was signed into law in February by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.
“However, we believe that much more can be done to prevent gun violence and ensure the safety of both Nevada and California residents,” the letter from California lawmakers said.
Sisolak said in a statement Tuesday that he has supported other measures, including a “red flag” law that removes guns from people deemed to pose a public threat, and he has said he would like to see additional gun safety measures in Nevada.
“I’m proud that we passed common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm,” he said. “I will continue working with law enforcement, elected and community leaders, and subject matter experts to explore different ways we can keep Nevadans safe.”
On Tuesday, Sisolak and California Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a conservation meeting at Lake Tahoe with leaders from California and Nevada. Newsom said just after the Gilroy shooting that he wanted to talk to Sisolak about gun issues, but they had not connected. His office did not respond to a request for comment on whether the two governors have since talked about gun issues, including at Tuesday’s event.
The California legislators wrote that cooperation between states is needed “especially as Congressional Republicans continue to block common sense gun safety legislation…”
Frierson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
California has worked out cooperative agreements with other states in the past on other issues. Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed agreements to align California’s clean energy policies with those of Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia. The pacts set non-binding goals.
The California lawmakers said they hope other states also improve cooperation on gun control.
“This summit would be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate groundbreaking, state-level coordination that could serve as a model for other states across the United States,” the legislators said.
Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times