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A San Francisco police officer documents a gun that is being surrendered during a gun buy back program on December 15, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco police department held a one-day gun buy back event that paid $200 per gun turned in.
As Vice President Biden looks at crafting new national gun control legislation, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes additional regulations in his state, California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Handgun owners register with the state, there’s a 10-day waiting period, and private gun sales are supposed to go through licensed dealers. There’s also a ban in place of state-defined assault weapons, which includes AR- and AK- semiautomatic rifles. But with a significant gray market, and very different laws in neighboring states like Arizona and Nevada, there are significant holes even in such a tough legal environment. On top of that, regulations are confusing and come from different branches of state and local government.
If you’re a gun owner in California, is it hard to comply? How difficult is it to enforce the multiple layers of regulation? And are advocates of gun control right to link more regulation with less violence? What about proponents of gun ownership, who counter that places with more guns experience less violence?
William Vizzard, professor of criminal justice at Cal State University, Sacramento; and former Special Agent in Charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (1967-1994)