California, in terms of debates on gun rights, is always worth paying attention to. Whilst we at GND obviously disagree with many of the laws in force in the state, being examples of flagrant disregard for Second Amendment rights, the state often offers a good example of where liberal thinking on gun rights currently lies.
In recent months, we’ve covered the debate about guns in schools pretty thoroughly, looking at the debate taking place in different states. Now we turn to California, where a recent bill illiustrates the confusion that the debate is causing.
California lawmakers, several years ago, complied with a federal instruction to allow guns in schools. In California, superintendents were empowered to allow people to carry guns on campus. In contrast to some other, more conservative, states, in California those arguing for these measures did so with reference to domestic violence. Allowing domestic violence survivors to carry weapons on campus, it was argued, would allow them to protect themselves.
However, this week a more recent law has sought to overturn superintendents’ authority in these matters. The authors of the bill aruge that the earlier law has been exploited in several place, allowing many more people to carry guns than is necessary or ideal. In particular, they point to the fact that some cafeteria workers, teachers, and yard duty assistants now routinely carry weapons.
Opponents of the new law – the one to revoke the right to allow guns in school – argue that the original law made schools a safer place. They have returned to their earlier argument, saying that if abusers know that domestic violence survivors are armed when on campus, this reduces the likelihood of more abuse taking place.
Further, they argue, the restrictions on obtaining a concealed carry license in California are already pretty strict. Those who are able to obtain a license have already proven themselves to be well-adjusted, responsible gun owners, they argue, and can therefore be trusted to carry their guns to school in a similarly responsible manner.
The recent legislation is being debated in a heightened atmosphere, which is one reason lawmakers in California have gotten so passionate about what would otherwise be a quite routine change. Two months ago, a teacher and an 8 year old student were shot in a primary school in San Bernardino. The shooter was the teacher’s estranged husband. This, and other similar incidents, have been brought up by those opposed to allowing guns on school campuses.
We at GND recognise the complexity of debates like this, but also feel strongly that guns should be allowed on campuses. As Republicans in California have pointed out, obtaining a concealed carry license in the state is a pretty rigorous process anyway, and it is at this stage that individuals unsuited to owning and carrying a firearm should be denied them. Having a good process for the granting of licenses should, in our view, be enough – further limiting our rights to carry weapons in particular buildings is a step too far.