After 3 Mass Shootings in One Week, Bay Area Representatives Call For Action

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A memorial for the victims of the mass shooting is placed by the entrance of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

Some of California's top elected officials are calling for stricter gun laws after three mass shootings in a single week. The three incidents, which took place in Dayton, Ohio, El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California, resulted in the loss of at least 32 lives and dozens of injuries.

In a statement, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for tighter background checks when purchasing a gun, closing loopholes that allow the purchase of guns online or at gun shows, and more "extreme-risk" or red flag laws, which allow the removal of guns from dangerous individuals by loved ones and law enforcement. Fifteen states, including California, currently have red flag laws on the books.

"This must stop, and the only way we can lower these numbers of shootings is through legislation," Feinstein said in the statement. "And above all, we need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to start drying up the supply."

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired in 2004. Since then, Feinstein has repeatedly attempted to introduce a new version of the bill — most recently in January 2019 — that would make it a crime to "knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon" or large-capacity magazine. But the bill hasn't moved forward.

North Bay Rep. Mike Thompson, who chairs the House of Representatives Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said the House has passed two bills to restrict access to guns, but they've been held up in the Senate.


"Sadly, Mitch McConnell in the Senate is not doing his job," Thompson said. "He's holding everything up in the Senate in regard to gun violence prevention."

House Speaker and San Francisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, also called on the Republican-controlled Senate to bring the gun control bills up for a vote.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who was born and raised in El Paso, is not only calling for legislative action but also for President Trump to address his rhetoric.

"You can't tell me that calling immigrants invaders did not trigger something," Lee said. "So this White House, while they didn't pull the trigger, Donald Trump needs to understand that his rhetoric and his hate speech is setting the stage for this to happen."

In July, the House passed a resolution condemning Trump for his racist comments about four congresswomen, saying they "legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

"We need to say enough is enough. We've got to get these guns off the street, we need an assault weapons ban and we also need to stop this administration from continuing its anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric," Lee said.

Other California representatives have condemned the violence and called for legislative action on Twitter.