It saddens my heart every time another news story breaks about a mass shooting – the latest being close to home at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. It is even more depressing to write “another news story” because one is too many, and I think most of us are having difficulty comprehending the sheer amount of mass shootings. As a father of five, I cannot imagine the grief and trauma the parents of the victims experience, as well as their friends and teachers.
Mass shootings may be the most shocking type of gun violence and generate the most coverage, but gun violence is not limited to these events and claims the lives of thousands of young people every year. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens. These firearms deaths are from homicides, suicides, and mass shootings.
So can we do something about it? The simple answer is yes. Data show a clear correlation between stronger gun laws and lower gun death rates. Unfortunately, change at the federal level has proved difficult given the power of the gun lobby. Thankfully, that is starting to shift and states are leading the way.
California and other states have strengthened gun laws that regulate who can buy or sell guns, how they are stored and what types can be owned. This year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed more than 15 bills aimed at strengthening gun violence protections, and I am proud to have supported every single one of them.
In the 2019-20 state budget, the Legislature and Gov. Newsom made significant investments in gun-violence prevention, security for hate-crime targets and gun-safety measures. Funding for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Program tripled from the previous year.
It is hard to know exactly which policy or investment will prevent a specific incident of gun violence, but if we continue to follow the data and pass legislation based on the facts, we will make a positive impact.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and community groups throughout the state to increase protection for everyone.
Chris Holden, a Democrat, is an Assembly member from the 41st District, which includes South Pasadena. This article was written exclusively for the Review.