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I recently had the opportunity to participate in an interview with Shikha Hamilton, Manager of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign. This interview is part of our research to determine the gun violence prevention campaign our social justice organizing committee will develop. Below, are summarized excerpts from our discussion.


Call Governor Brown toll free at 1-877-927-2399 between now and July 21st to urge him to sign AB 1964 to prevent gun dealers from selling handguns without safety features.

What are the top 2 priorities that the Brady Campaign has in California?
SB 53 requires ammunition sellers to be licensed by the California Department of Justice and for every person who purchases ammunition to have passed a background check. The Attorney General will maintain copies of ammunition purchase permits, information about ammunition transactions, and ammunition vendor licenses. This will go to the floor for a vote, and then the Governor needs to sign this.

AB 1964 Unsafe Handguns: Certain safety precautions must be complied with if you want to sell handguns in California. The Unsafe Handgun Act requires manufactures to include a chamber-loading feature indicating how many bullets are left inside. The single shot exemption is for guns that can shoot only once. Unscrupulous firearms dealers created a way for guns to meet this exemption and skirted the law. AB 1964 prevents them from skirting the law. Microstamping (like a fingerprint to ID a gun) law went into affect this year, but Smith and Wesson didn’t want to comply so they boycotted California. Now they can no longer sell new handguns until they comply with microstampting and the chamber loading feature. Gov Brown has until July 21 to sign this bill.

AB 104 The Gun Violence Restraining Order Bill: A family member or close friend can appeal to a court to say that a certain individual should not be able to buy a gun.  A hearing takes place (due process); then the police will have the right to take the gun. Amanda and Nick Wilcox, California Brady Campaign lobbyists, presented at a hearing how this would have saved their daughter’s life. The bill passed unanimously out of committee, however the bill still needs to be cleaned up so this is not a priority bill right now.

At the federal level: Senators Boxer and Feinstein, The Pause for Safety Act (with Rep Lois Caps) would enable family members and others to seek a court order to stop a dangerous person from purchasing or possessing a firearm. It is thought that this would have prevented Rodgers from his shooting rampage.

Also at the federal level: Manchin-Toomey want to put their background checks bill back up for a vote. However, this is not good for California because we currently have a more restrictive background checks law. Manchin-Toomey would minimize current California law.


Again, at the federal level, is there anything that can be done besides writing legislators?
Shikha recommends calling congresscritters even if you are not in their district. She sites examples of Jeff Denham - Modesto; Gary Miller - SE  Pomona Valley area, and David Valadao as having been successfully “harassed.” She also recommends going to town hall meetings and asking questions.

Also, with respect to gun dealers, the location of where the majority of crime guns are coming from has been identified. In the fall, Brady Campaign will begin to work on this issue. Brady campaign has been successful in suing gun dealers, whereas in the past, they could not be sued.


Are there state gun measures on the books that cities are not following?
We passed a law that created a list of prohibited purchasers so we can see who recently bought guns. If the sheriff in Santa Barbara had checked this list, which would have taken 90 seconds to look up, he could have seen if Rodgers had purchased guns. But, this list was not checked. This law was passed but not used. This was negligence. No other enforcement problems are known.


Throughout the state, what other cities have tried to pass measures? What are they? Have there been any countywide measures? If so, what are they?
Citizens of Pleasant Hill had a problem with licensed gun dealers selling guns out of their homes. There were problems with individuals storing their guns at home as well as people coming to pick them up. The city passed an ordinance to address this problem. But because this wasn’t a ballot measure, we didn’t hear about it. Sunnyvale had to put their measure on a ballot because they couldn’t get their legislators to pass the bill themselves. The Pleasant Hill ordinance just didn’t get the publicity of Sunnyvale Measure C.


Are you aware of the Sheriff’s Task Force in Tucson, AZ that intervenes and assesses a person if s/he is reported as a danger to her/himself or others and also has access to guns?
This is Laura’s Law (mental health focus), which passed in San Francisco last week by SF supervisors. This passed in Nevada County, CA - Amanda and Nick worked on this. This has to do with somebody being a danger to others. A family member can alert law enforcement and law enforcement can then proceed. Brady campaign supports this law but doesn’t work on this since they are a 1-issue organization. San Mateo is currently working on this.



Can divestiture impact gun manufacturers?  
Yes, there was a campaign against H and R Block because every time you had your taxes done you unknowingly gave money to the NRA.

CA Pizza Kitchen, & Peet’s Coffee didn’t allow guns but Starbucks said they would follow the state law allowing open carry. We protested throughtout CA at Starbucks locations against the gun toters and eventually, CA passed a law prohibiting open carry.

Brady campaign works on many issues, when they can, because they must attack gun violence from many angles.



What action do you feel would have a broader impact and help further the energy on this? What can we do on the local level to bridge to the national level?
Local: the key is the number of chapters that we have because this gives Amanda
and Nick the power they need when they talk to legislatures. With 25 chapters behind them, they are respected and they will be listened to. Gun Rights supporters will pretend that they are constituents in their district because the legislator tallies all their calls, and this gets bills passed.

It only takes 3 people to form a chapter for Brady to send out alerts. Brady builds membership of real people, not just emails because they may be needed to call legislators. Amanda needs California chapters to call legislator right now. Legislators listen to this.

The Brady Campaign gives money only on the state level. Gabby Giffords and Bloomberg give to federal candidates because they don’t have the legislative background.



Where should we start? What should be step one?
At the local level, start talking to friends and families, “This is what I am working on, will you stand with me? We’ll send you an alert when things come up and ask you to make calls.”

Local gun store issue: The town did not have proper regulations in place for a gun store to open a business. This was a zoning issue (not next to a school, bar, bank etc…). When Shikha lived in Detroit, her group got the zoning commission to make a change. She recommends reaching out to friendly council members to develop an ordinance because the ballot measure takes money etc… There is a huge sense of accomplishment to get ordinances passed.



Can one person really make a difference?
Mayor Spitaleri was not paying attention to the issue of gun violence prevention before
Don Veith, the current co-president of the Santa Clara County Brady chapter, and Nandini, co-founder of the Sunnyvale Measure C, requested him to take the Mayor’s oath against illegal guns by presenting him with a petition of 250 signatures. They followed this up by collecting 1,000 signatures for the actual measures to get to the city council. This is when Mayor Spitaleri “woke up”, and asked for a citizen’s group to organize, which eventually got the city council to agree to the ballot measure.


Call Governor Brown toll free at 1-877-927-2399 between now and July 21st to urge him to sign AB 1964 to prevent gun dealers from selling handguns without safety features.

Governor Brown is a toss up, you never know what he's going to do.


Add your name here:
STAND WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA AND VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE TO MAKE THIS A SAFER NATION

We are better than a nation where 32 people are murdered by guns every day. Now, we are at a critical moment in the movement to prevent gun violence across the country. But, the only way we will get meaningful results is if come together to make our voices heard.Join us by adding your name to the growing list of millions of Americans who share our belief in common sense measures to reduce gun violence.

These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our children and elders. But for the grace of Spirit, God, Allah, some other deity, or nothing but fate goes each of us.
~Aji~



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