California Capital Building

On Election Day, the state of California declared yet another victory for public safety. Yesterday, voters in our home state overwhelmingly backed Proposition 63, with 63% of the vote. This bold package of smart gun laws will help keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands and save lives.

We were honored to partner with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom on this groundbreaking initiative by identifying deadly gaps in the state’s gun laws and drafting initiative language. Our legal director, Julie Leftwich, and staff attorney, Ari Freilich, spent more than a year testifying at legislative hearings, securing critical endorsements, and vigorously advocating for Prop 63 on television, on the radio, and in dozens of news articles.

Proposition 63 closes a dangerous loophole in California’s gun laws by establishing a clear, verifiable process for the relinquishment of guns by newly convicted criminals—unlike any other law nationwide—to help get illegally possessed weapons out of our communities. It also requires the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, prohibits the possession of military-style large capacity ammunition magazines, and requires ammunition sellers to obtain a state license and conduct background checks on ammunition purchasers.

For the last two decades, the Law Center has been at the forefront of the fight against gun violence in California. Ballot initiatives like Proposition 63 send a clear message to the gun lobby and legislators across the nation: voters want the commonsense solutions to gun violence that a vast majority of Americans support, and when leaders in Congress fail to act, the people have to stand up and make change happen themselves. 

California was one of three states that passed lifesaving gun safety measures through ballot initiatives on Election Day. Nevada adopted universal background checks, which will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people by ensuring every person buying a gun online, at a gun show, in a private sale, and by a dealer will be required to pass a background check. This now brings the total number of states require background checks for unlicensed sales up to 19. Using the Law Center’s model law as a guide, Washington State resoundingly passed a lifesaving Extreme Risk Protective Order initiative. It empowers families and law enforcement to protect at-risk individuals by removing guns from a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others. California was the first state to enact such a law, in the wake of the mass shooting at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The resounding success of these measures at the state level, along with the scores of lifesaving smart gun laws passed by state legislatures this year, shows beyond a doubt that the momentum for commonsense solutions to the gun violence crisis is swiftly approaching a tipping point. In the face of unthinkable carnage, and in a year that brought the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the tide is finally turning. The Law Center’s advocates and attorneys are hard at work generating ideas to capitalize on this momentum in the upcoming legislative cycle so that we can use these historic victories at the ballot box as a springboard to even greater reform in 2017.