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Gun violence prevention fast-tracked by state lawmakers

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an aggressive new initiative to protect Californians from gun violence late Friday.

His plan is to provide $5 million in grants to community-based domestic violence organizations. The groups will use the money to educate their clients and provide resources for restraining orders under what's known as “red flag” laws.

The orders temporarily remove guns and ammunition from individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

"There's been a lot of things that have been said — some are correct, some are incorrect," Gov. Greg Abbott said the day after the shooting. But soon afterward, he would correct his own statements.

Kasey Zahner is leader of the San Diego chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She told KPBS News that she is encouraged by actions taken by state leaders in the wake of recent school shootings.

“People are talking about it, people are aware that there are a variety of things we can do to prevent gun violence. I’ve seen the conversation change, I’ve seen people more willing to talk to their legislators about the importance of this issue,” she said.

In fact, lawmakers in Sacramento have fast-tracked their debate, with several bills on the table at the moment. That includes legislation that would finally outlaw so-called ghost guns that can’t be traced. Another bill would allow gunmakers to be sued and held accountable for deaths caused by weapons they produce.

“To be very clear, the weapon that was used to perpetrate the unspeakable horror in Texas last week would be illegal to sell to a person of any age in California today,” said Ari Freilich, California policy director of the Giffords Law Center, which is monitoring the progress of legislation.


He confirmed that California’s ban on assault weapons remains in effect despite a recent attempt by a conservative San Diego judge to block it.

“At a certain point, with lawmakers who stand in the way of progress and have continued to not change their minds,” Freilich said, “at a certain point we will change who we elect instead of changing their minds.”

San Diego’s history with school shootings goes back 43 years, to January 1979.

That’s when Brenda Spencer, then 16 years old, used a semiautomatic rifle her father gave her to shoot at a San Carlos elementary school. Spencer killed the principal and custodian and seriously injured 8 students and a police officer.

She remains in prison, with the possibility of parole coming again in September.

The victims of that shooting are remembered with a monument outside the San Diego Unified School District administration building in University Heights.

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Nicholas McVicker
This memorial commemorates lives lost in a San Carlos mass shooting in January 1979. It's located outside the San Diego Unified School District administration office, San Diego, CA, June 3, 2022.

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