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How California's Already Strict Gun Laws Might Get Stricter After Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay Shootings

A person in a mask holds a handmade red sign that reads: "The problem is guns!" He is surrounded by other people.
One message at the candelight vigil Tuesday night at city hall in Monterey Park where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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The recent mass shootings in Monterey Park and the community of Half Moon Bay in Northern California could push lawmakers to propose stricter gun laws to build on California's already strict framework.

But the path through the state and federal courts is far from clear, particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court has showed recent support for a broadened interpretation of the Second Amendment's protections.

Why it matters

Adam Winkler, a UCLA professor of law, told our newsroom's public affairs show AirTalk — which airs on 89.3 FM — that the pistol used in the Monterey Park shooting was illegal under California law, and the extended magazine the gunman used is subject to a law that voters passed two years ago.

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"That particular law has been put on hold by the federal courts, however, as they consider the constitutionality of bans on high capacity magazines under the Second Amendment," Winkler said.

Listen to the conversation

What's next for gun laws in California

The backstory

California's gun laws are already among the strictest in the nation, and research from the Public Policy Institute of California found that the state's homicide rate from mass shootings is lower than the national average.

But Winkler said there is some debate over whether that's due to the fact that Californian population is more urban than rural. Nationally, rural areas have a higher concentration of guns, he noted.

What's next

California lawmakers are considering legislation to shore up California's concealed carry permitting and rules, but that it has yet to pass the legislature.

There are also laws currently being considered to make selling a "ghost gun," or a gun without a serial number, a felony, and to prohibit the sale of body armor.

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For gun control advocates, Winkler said there's reason to be concerned about the fate of those and other legal efforts.

"We also have various laws, like our ban on the possession of high capacity magazines, that have been held up in federal court," Winkler said.

Those hold ups, he said, could be more common.

"In light of the Supreme Court's expansion of gun rights," he said, "it's very possible that a number of California's gun laws are gong to be called into question."

This story was produced for the radio by Manuel Valladares.

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