California Officials Shouldn't Whine About Gun Violence Unless They're Willing to Enforce the Law
Every day, local prosecutors like George Gascon refuse to file firearms-related sentencing enhancements in cases in which a defendant uses a gun while committing a crime.
June 5, 2023
June 1, 2023 - For as long as he's been our governor, Gavin Newsom has advocated for stronger gun laws. On the national level, he has condemned lax enforcement in Florida, Texas, and Missouri, where gun laws are far less stringent than in California. On the state level, he has passed regulations to combat gun violence.
Every prosecutor would agree that gun violence is an American epidemic. We see it, up close and personal, almost every day. And we fervently believe, like the governor, that policymakers and prosecutors should do everything they can to hold people accountable when they use guns to victimize their fellow Californians.
Tragically, some elected prosecutors like George Gascón (Los Angeles) and Pamela Price (Alameda) don't agree. Every day, they refuse to file firearms-related sentencing enhancements in cases in which a defendant uses a gun while committing a crime.
Their "so what, who cares?" approach to gun violence undermines every Californian's common sense desire: to treat those who use guns to terrorize and kill their neighbors more harshly than those who don't.
Governor Newsom has the opportunity to approach this de facto abolition of California gun laws with the same passion he exhibits at the state and national level.
He is right to slam gun policies in other states like Florida or Texas. But the undermining of our state gun laws by some local prosecutors is much more subtle – yet just as destructive. And Newsom should know, better than most, that getting guns out of the hands of criminals is both the right thing to do, and it's what Californians want.
California has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but those laws don't matter if the people charged with enforcing them don't care enough to use them.
We implore the governor to use his platform to make California a safer place to live, by pushing California's elected District Attorneys to enforce our gun laws. His leadership on this issue would go a long way toward improving the lives and communities of the Californians who elected him.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.