Gov. Brown should give gun legislation the go-ahead

Measures awaiting the governor's signature can help reduce gun violence, including mass killings.

SACRAMENTO — Man goes to work. Woman visits a mall. Child sits in class. Couple attends a movie. All have one thing in common. They are vulnerable to being shot and killed by some "innocent law-abiding citizen."

Anyone who owns a firearm is law-abiding and entitled to be armed, if you listen to the gun lobby.

Then suddenly the person's not law-abiding. He goes berserk and mass kills.

The National Rifle Assn. and its sidekicks simply are shills for the firearms industry, scaring people into buying expensive weapons before President Obama, they ominously warn, bans their sales. Maybe even confiscates them. Like the Nazis did.

Laughable if it weren't so tragic.

Now we have another mass shooting.

A guy has repeated disciplinary problems in the Navy. He's arrested three times over a decade, twice for gun-related incidents. He tells Rhode Island police that voices are speaking to him through the walls, floor and ceiling.

A few weeks later he buys a riot shotgun — short barrel, large magazine — from a Virginia gun shop and takes immediate possession after an instant so-called background check. (In California, there would have been a 10-day waiting period — maybe it would have been a cooling-off period.)

Two days later, he carries his riot gun to a Navy yard in Washington, D.C., and kills 12 people.

What's missing here?

A comprehensive, nationwide background check system that could flag the likes of mass killer Aaron Alexis. But the gun lobby and its Republican minions — some cowardly Democrats, too — will have none of it, blocking such legislation in Congress.

That's particularly the case since the lobby orchestrated the recall of two Colorado state legislators — one the Senate president — who helped pass bills requiring universal background checks paid for by gun purchasers and a 15-round limit on magazines. (In California, the limit is 10 rounds.)

The gun lobby seems to believe that all these mass killings are the price we must pay for freedom.

Never mind that the United States has the embarrassing distinction of having the highest rate of firearm-related murders among all the developed countries.

Yes, we have a 2nd Amendment. But it doesn't guarantee that any person can own any weapon he chooses. That conservative hero, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a 2008 opinion affirming the right of individuals to own firearms, wrote that "the right secured by the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited....

"The right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

Fortunately in California, most legislators long have recognized that a modicum of gun control makes common sense.

Inspired by last December's massacre of 26 — including 20 children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Legislature recently passed more than a dozen gun-control bills.

They're now on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk awaiting his signature or veto. It's anyone's guess how he'll act. Probably sign some, veto others — that's his MO.

Brown was asked by reporters Monday — the day of the Navy yard shootings — about the volley of gun bills fired his way. His cautious reply:

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