Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, who announced in April her plans to run for California’s 24th Congressional district seat, released a 10-point proposal last month aimed at curbing gun violence on a national scale.
The plan almost exclusively focuses on expanding existing California laws to function on a national level. Included in the 10 points are proposals for the temporary seizure of guns from dangerous individuals and background checks on all gun sales. Schneider also presented the idea for a $10 billion national gun buyback program in her plans. The Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) held a gun buyback program the past two summers, allowing owners to return their guns for money, no questions asked.
Schneider said as a result of the SBPD buybacks, hundreds of guns in the Santa Barbara area are now “off the streets.”
“We could calculate 55 million guns off the street with this kind of [national] program,” Schneider said.
Schneider said gun control is a “top priority” in light of recent mass shootings, including those at Northern Arizona University and Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen the very tragic events both in Isla Vista last year,” Schneider said. “Everywhere you turn, these kind of incidents happen, and as a mayor you don’t want to get that call that someone’s been shot and killed due to gun violence.”
Associate professor of Chican@ studies Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, who organized a vigil to honor victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting, said he discussed the importance of gun laws with Assemblymember Das Williams in the past.
“Take guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them,” Armbruster-Sandoval said. “If that’s gun control, then I’m all for it. Certain people should not have guns; that’s all.”
Armbruster-Sandoval said Assembly Bill 1014, a legislation similar to Schneider’s 10th point which allows law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from a person who poses immediate danger, will only be effective if Californians know they can request a dangerous person’s weapons be removed.
“Having [AB 1014] on the books is helpful but a lot of people don’t know about that,” Armbruster-Sandoval said.
Owner of Dodge City Shooters Supply Rick Dodge said most of Schneider’s proposals would have little effect on his gun store because California gun laws are already some of the strictest in the country.
“Most of those things don’t apply to California because we already have them,” Dodge said.
Dodge said while he is in favor of background checks, gun owners are prone to undeserved scrutiny.
“Thirty-thousand people die in a car accident every year, so why don’t we all drive cars at 15 miles per hour with rubber tires put all the way around?” Dodge said.
Schneider said attention to recent mass shootings will make gun laws a prevalent topic in the upcoming 2016 election.
“I think what’s changing in the last couple of years especially is that general voters, democrats, republicans, gun owners, non-gun owners are saying enough is enough,” Schneider said. “This is going to be and should be a campaign issue in 2016.”
Dodge said Schneider’s proposal may have an unexpected effect even if it fails to go into law.
“When [politicians] talk about it … more people rush into the stores and are worried about more stringent regulations, it creates more sales for us,” Dodge said. “We always joke around: The best salesman in the world is President Obama — he mentions something and everyone around the nation rushes in to buy.”