The Legislature might be out of session, but that doesn’t mean a political dog and pony show didn’t take place at the State Capitol on December 14. Congressman Mike Thompson, a Democrat from Napa and current Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, conferred a hearing on his take of just that: gun violence.
Invited panelists included an interesting host of individuals, all of whom had something in common: a distinct bent to unravel the Second Amendment. They included a California gun dealer who has a record of supporting universal background checks, the legislative director of the Brady Campaign, the Chief of Police of the City of Capitola who is chairman of the firearms policy committee for the California Police Chief’s Association, and the Sheriff of Yolo County who has been sued by pro-Second Amendment proponents for refusing to issue concealed weapons permits for unconstitutional reasons. While there is certainly no problem with holding a conference dedicated to this subject matter, there was something noticeably absent from this public hearing: advocates for the 2nd Amendment.
Given the fact that gun groups weren’t invited to participate – even though it was “billed” to include gun owners – it was no surprise that each speaker was provided an unlimited amount of time to make a personal statement, each which decried our American culture of violence. Their solution? More gun control. Faulty statistics flew through the air like a flock of wild birds and it was clearly apparent there is little interest in having a dialogue on how to actually stem the tide of violence in our state and nation.
GOC Executive Director Sam Paredes was only able to participate by submitting a written question, which was why no leaders in the 2nd Amendment community were invited. The Congressman – in a silly attempt to appear impartial, then asked the panelists how many of them were “supporters of the 2nd Amendment” and all raised their hands. His “I’m a FAIR guy” chest thumping did not sway Paredes, who stepped forward from the crowd to ask again why no LEADERS were invited to speak.
Thompson didn’t really like being publicly called out, but that’s what it took for Paredes and pro-gun colleague Craig DeLuz (CAL-FFL, an association of Federal Firearms Licensed Dealers) to be permitted a gratuitous five minutes of time – at the close of the hearing.
Paredes called into question the integrity of the conference, since leading defenders of Second Amendment rights were excluded from what could have been a sincere dialogue about how to deal with “gun violence”. In the five minutes allotted, there was not sufficient time to correct the many misstatements of fact but Paredes was able to make the following points:
- In 2014 there were 1.47 million firearms purchases in California and in the first 11 months of 2015 this number is as grown to over 1.5 million.
- The NY Times reported that in their nationwide poll, 50% of Americans were opposed to bans of so-called “assault weapons”.
- Surveys consistently show a wide margin of Americans feel safer in communities where people own firearms.
- 400 million guns are owned by Americans and it is estimated that 40 million guns are owned by Californians.
- As admitted by the Brady Campaign representative, homicides with firearms are at a steady and significant decline, having been cut in half over the past 20 years, at a time when gun ownership has skyrocketed.
- Law abiding gun owners are responsible with their gun ownership as evidenced by the fact that so few are used in accidents or in the commission of a crime.
- He concluded that he represented the tens of thousands who have been able to save their lives or the lives of a loved one because they had a firearm.
Craig DeLuz, a polished speaker and articulate defender of the Constitution, provided solid input as well. The hearing concluded with an impassioned testimony of a young man representing the Pink Pistols who expressed his fear of being murdered, and pleaded for the ability to protect himself.
This conference lacked as much credibility as that of its organizer. Congressman Thompson serves as Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and in good ol’ fashioned liberal form, planned a dog-and-pony show to drumbeat gun control as the single solution to gun violence. Although they claimed allegiance to the 2nd Amendment, the members of the panel are driven by emotion as opposed to intellect and an understanding of violence – regardless of whether a gun, knife or other weapon is used. As long as the anti-gun left continues to call for more gun control as the only solution and ignores the human element side of the equation such as mental health, crime control, and equipping law enforcement with the tools needed to capture criminals and keep them off the street, nothing will change. We will continue to have acts of terrorism and heinous crimes committed against helpless citizens and the blood of those victims will lie at their doorstep.
Watch GOC’s Executive Director Sam Paredes mid-conference interview with Univision here