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Gun control initiative launched in California

In the wake of recent mass shootings in Oregon and Arizona campuses, anti-violence advocates launched on Oct. 15, 2015 a ballot initiative aimed at requiring background checks gun purchases and reporting on lost or stolen guns in California.

Called Safety for All, the historic ballot initiative is a package of gun reforms that include instant and tighter background checks for purchases of guns and ammunitions, as well as prohibiting possession of large detachable military style-magazines.

Spearheaded by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the legislation also seeks to require the immediate surrender of firearms for people convicted of serious and violent crimes.

“I thought Sandy Hook was the breaking point. I remember the knot in my stomach as I watched the news. I couldn’t stop thinking about my own children. I was consumed by anger and sadness. We all were. And I was sure that our society couldn’t ignore this problem anymore, not after 20 children were brutally murdered,” Newsom said in an email sent to supporters.

Since 2012, there have been 45 shootings at schools and 142 such incidents since the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary on Dec. 14, 2012.

Newsome said, “[It] pains me that the cries of heartbroken families fell on deaf ears as the NRA (National Rifle Association) and their powerful lobbyists repeatedly blocked laws — supported by more than 90 percent of Americans — that would save countless lives. So here we are, three years later, and the headlines are infuriatingly familiar: More mass shootings. More young lives cut short by preventable violence.”

So far in 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings—defined as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured by gun—or more than one incident per day, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which also reported that 9,956 people have been killed by firearms so far this year and more than 20,000 have been injured.

Newsom said that by going straight to voters, “we can defeat the NRA on new ground and restore the power of citizens in enacting commonsense gun laws to stop senseless tragedies.”

Among other things, the Safety for All initiative treats ammunition sales like gun sales. It requires licensing of ammunition vendors and point-of-sale background checks for ammunition purchases in California, prohibiting the sale of ammunition to those with felony and violent misdemeanor convictions, restraining order and those declared dangerously mentally ill.

The ballot initiative effectively hopes to make California the first state to require background checks at point of sale, defining a clear firearms relinquishment process for those convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor.

Also under the initiative, firearm owners are required to notify law enforcement if their firearm has been lost or stolen.

“With 150 school shootings since Newtown and many more mass shootings devastating communities across our state and nation, it is time to say enough is enough,” Newsom said in a media statement. “The Safety for All initiative will save lives by making it much harder for dangerous people to get guns and ammunition in California.”

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