News & Politics

What Are the 'Common Sense Gun Laws' that Would Have Prevented the San Bernardino Massacre?

Authorities prepare to search an area near a church on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, following a shooting that killed multiple people at a social services center for the disabled in San Bernardino, Calif. (James Quigg/The Victor Valley Daily Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

UPDATE: At a press conference that just concluded,  law enforcement officials revealed that the two handguns were purchased by the shooters, but the long guns (the rifles) were not. So while the media will tell you the guns were purchased legally, they were not USED legally: this is called a “straw purchase” and it is illegal. We also learned that there were high -capacity magazine at the scene — and hicapmags are also illegal in California. Additionally, law enforcement officials were not certain if the AR15 was California legal. So in other words, a bunch of existing gun laws were broken during this massacre. Remember that when President Obama and his motley crew of gun controllers demand even more firearms laws under the guise of preventing gun violence.


It didn’t take long for calls for gun control to start following the horrific massacre in San Bernardino by Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. The motive for the massacre has escaped our law enforcement officials as of this writing.

But “moments after the news broke of the shooting,” Obama spoke to CBS News and called for “common sense gun safety laws” and also urged lawmakers to prevent people on the “No Fly List” from legally purchasing firearms. (As an aside, people on the No Fly List have not been adjudicated of anything, so that presents a whole range of civil liberty issues.)

“We don’t yet know what the motives of the shooters are but what we do know is that there are steps we can take to make Americans safer,” Obama said in the interview. “We should never think that this is just something that just happens in the ordinary course of events because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries.”

Obama said U.S. mass shootings have “no parallel anywhere else in the world” although less than two weeks ago, a group of Islamic terrorists shot and killed exponentially more innocent people in Paris.

So let’s talk about “common sense gun laws.”

California has very restrictive firearms laws, probably the most restrictive in America.  The laws are so restrictive that gun manufacturers have to make guns specifically for California. Many gun dealers or manufacturers just don’t do business in California at all. It’s a pain in the ass. Here’s a great piece discussing the firearms laws in California by at Reason.

According to recent reports, two of the four firearms used in the massacre were purchased legally and law enforcement is still tracing the two handguns. The L.A. Times writes, “The guns were bought by an individual associated with the investigation, Davis said but declined to name the person.”

UPDATE: ABC News just tweeted out that all four guns were purchased legally, but 2 of the guns were not purchased by the users, which means they were used illegally.

We don’t know who bought the guns but if “an individual associated with the investigation” isn’t the one using the gun, then it looks like this could have been a straw purchase. And while guns were legally purchased, we don’t know if they were legally used. Also we don’t know what capacity magazines were involved. Was it more than 10? Because that is illegal in California.

If these two murderers passed background checks and waited the 10 days that are required according to CA law, what other “common sense” laws could we consider? One important “common sense” law we do have here in America is the prohibition against murder. That law didn’t stop these killers, why would we think more gun laws would be respected?

But when pressed for specificity about “common sense” restrictions on firearms, we don’t hear much about a plan to stop gun violence. Following the California paradigm, where most assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines are straight out illegal, what additional restrictions are we missing? A longer waiting period? Background checks that include more information? What kind of information other than criminal history should be included in a background check?

So really? What’s the plan? You know, the “common sense” one that doesn’t involve a total ban on firearms?