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Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
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February 17, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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February 17, 2000
 

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01icy per- yber 'd to goes lude ad a vere lie's ews not free ion. and on I III opinionm The public opinion forum where Beverly Hills dukes out the issues WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE? Koretz Stone and Susskind are all candidates for the State Assembly Paul Koretz As a City Councilman in West Hollywood, I am proud to have sponsored our an on military-style assault weapons in 1988, which built momentum towards the sub- sequent statewide ban. In 1996, I sponsored our ban on Saturday Night Special junk handguns, the first in California. The National Rifle Association fought us on this all the way to the California Supreme Court, but our legislation survived. Fifty cities and counties followed suit, and once again, local action lead to statewide legis- lation to ban Saturday Night Specials. Also last year, I sponsored legislation to limit purchases of handguns to no more than one gun per month; this will cut the number of "straw" purchases of guns intended for the black market. Long term solutions to gun violence will require improvements in education, job training, drug treat- ment and inmate rehabilitation. However, there are at least six steps we can take which will cut gun violence in the near term: ! ) The current state ban prohibits sales of assault weapons. I would go further and ban their posses- sion, to get these guns off our streets once and for all. 2 All resales of guns should pass through a licensed gun dealer. The "gun show" loophole on required backgi'ound checks, which allow sales to felons and mentally unstable people who cannot lawfully buy a gun, must be closed. 3 More resources must be allocated to law enforcement to police gun dealers, so that the gun laws in place are properly enforced. 4) All gun owners should be licensed by the state, after meeting requirements to show proficiency in gun safety and operation. 5) All handguns should be registered by the state, just as automobiles are today. 6) Development of promising "smart gun" tech- nology should be accelerated. "Smart guns" could be fired only by their owners, not by children or burglars. Paul Koretz is a West Hollywood City Councilmember. Daniel Stone, M,D. As a physician, I have witnessed first hand the damage that guns inflict upon our children and fam- ilies. I took care of my last gun- shot victim a mere three months ago. A teenage patient found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when a disagreement erupted in a dance club. The pain from the bullets that nearly took his life had pro- found effects upon his parents, friends and acquain- tances. Those of us that have experienced this pain on a personal basis understand the need for addi- tional legislation to reduce the horrible toll of gun violence in this country. We cannot continue to allow guns to kill four Americans and facilitate 120 crimes every hour. California's recent legislation limiting gun pur- chases to one per month was an excellent step toward reducing criminals' access to firearms. Stronger action is now needed. Research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association recently showed that individuals convicted of mis- demeanors are nearly five times more likely use a gun to commit a crime than those without a crimi- nal record. Given the clear dangers involved in gun ownership, we have a right to demand that pur- chasers be law-abiding citizens by the strictest stan- dards. We should also require gun purchasers take formal training and become licensed to reduce, the threat of accidents. Pessimists have long worried that the large num- ber of guns in circulation would eliminate the opportunity to reduce gun violence by reducing access. In the 1950's many experts similarly dis- missed the chances to improve highway safety given the boom in ear sales and motoring. In fact, product improvements and strict law enforcement produced a 75% reduction in the rate of auto fatal- ities. Recent epidemiologic evidence suggests that gun control laws can also save fives. If we are to protect the public from gun violence we must approach the gun control issues with the same determination that was seen in the battle to reduce drunk driving and to improve highway safe- ty. A legislative program aimed at reducing crimi- nals' access to guns and improving safety in the use of firearms by law-biding citizens would allow us to achieve that goal. Amanda Susskind When my parents were held up at gunpoint during a home inva- sion, the reality of gun violence in our society was brought home to me. My parents were not hurt, except for the loss of a ring which was the only jewelry my dad got out of Europe in 1945. The fight for responsible gun laws has been a very personal one for me, and I have the qualifica- tions and training to take that fight to Sacramento. I strongly believe that gun regulations at the local level can be an effective way to match strategies with a particular community's needs. A city with a lot of open space and target ranges may have very different needs from a dense urban metropolis. Some cities may suffer from the effects of gang warfare and illegal drug traffic, while others are more concerned with domestic violence and school safety. As a legislator, I would support local control at the local level. I would also support statewide regulations of dealer qualifications and" account- ability, taxation of guns and gun show admissions, restrictions on sales of certain guns and ammuni- tion, measures to increase gun safety, restrictions on gun shows end shooting ranges, and other pub- lic health'and safety measures. As a lawyer and prosecutor for local counties, cities and hools, I advised, enforced and wrote responsible gun laws. 1 fought to get guns out of the hands of criminals, to limit the availability of certain guns, to make it harder for kids to get guns, and to regulate the sale and distribution of guns. My former law finn wrote the ban on the sale of Saturday Night Specials (junk guns) for one city where I served as the Assistant City Attorney, and successfully defended that law all tile way to the California Supreme Court. I have always advocated for reasonable regula- tion of gun sales and distribution but my parents' robbery made the fight personal to me. I will con- tinue to focus, not on the confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens but, rather, on the reduction of criminal and accidental gun violence through adop- tion of reasonable regulations and enforcement of existing ones. Amanda Susskind is a former partner at Richards, Watson & Gershon. D. Daniel Stone is a medical doctor whose practice is located in the Cedars Sinai Medical Towers. If you have an idea for "The Ring", call 310.688.6761 February 17-23, 2000 5