What changes in gun policy were brought about as a result of the Isla Vista massacre in 2014?
Well, I think you saw a lot of red flags– Red flag legislation that came about in the state of California and passed. And since then, it’s been, I think, proven effective. There’s many instances that have been documented throughout the state of California where firearms– at least 21 cases, if not more, from one study that was done– were temporarily taken away from individuals who found themselves in crisis and a danger to themselves or others. So that was an important piece of legislation that came about as a result of the tragedy and the senseless violence that was perpetuated in Isla Vista in 2014. Since then, I think that you’ve also seen in Congress a stop and go, regrettably, or a go and stop in actions taken in trying to move forward with legislation that addresses gun safety. I say go and stop and stop and go because the House of Representatives has passed numerous pieces of legislation: HRA, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, as well as CDC and NIH funding for gun violence research. But, regrettably, that legislation has not moved forward in the Senate.
There’s a filibuster that requires 60 votes for legislation to move forward. And even though there’s a slight majority of Democrats in the Senate to overcome, the filibuster is still challenging. And quite frankly, the Republican Party has been beholden and joined at the hip with the NRA. And as a result, we haven’t had the composition of the Senate, as we’ve had in the House, to be able to move forward with legislation that addresses gun safety laws. I also have emulated to a great extent the red flag bill of California at the federal level and have moved forward the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act in collaboration with the other chamber in the Senate, with Senator Feinstein in the Senate and myself in the House, that would provide grants to state and local governments who have an interest in implementing extreme risk border protection laws or red flag bills or red flag laws throughout their jurisdictions. These grants would provide them funding for training or policy development so that we could see more red flag bills and laws enacted throughout the country.
Because the red flag laws or bills that have already been passed, those have shown to be effective.
Rep. Salud Carbajal: Yes, they have. Yes, they have. Look, there is no one law. That is going to be the panacea to addressing the totality of gun violence in our country. But the propensity of a number of laws will no doubt increase gun safety and protect our communities from senseless gun violence in our schools and in our societies, so it’s really important. You know, sometimes individuals like to highlight where that law went to work here or that law, isn’t it? But it’s not one law, it’s the totality of laws. That’s why the more laws that we can pass and our common-sense gun safety laws, the better. For example, we ought to re-enact the assault weapons ban that expired, and there is legislation to move that forward again and a number of other pieces of legislation.
Yeah. Great. Let’s see. Do you think that the 2014 tragedy is still affecting your decisions in the government, and what you are putting forward?
Rep. Salud Carbajal: Absolutely. For me, like I said, I continue to re-introduce, as I have done this Congress, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act with Senator Feinstein in Congress, her bill in the Senate and my bill in the House of Representatives this week. We continue to see tragedies throughout the country where the four red flag bills still have a significant impact when they are in place and in places where they don’t where they would have made a difference. So I am no doubt committed to continuing to do that, to continuing to look at other legislation that would continue to grow our gun safety laws throughout our country. And again, in an effort to reduce senseless, senseless gun violence throughout our country, in the schools and in our communities. I also had a sister when I was a little boy that took her life with my father’s revolver and more than half of the gun violence in our country is results from acts of suicide. So in my own family, I’ve had two instances of suicide. And I think it’s imperative to also remind ourselves that this isn’t just gun violence perpetuated by perpetrators, but also individuals who find themselves in crisis and depressed or in a position where they are. They aim to harm themselves, not just others. And these laws, these extreme risk protection order act laws and red flag bills, they go a long way because they would allow family members and local law enforcement and the courts to provide due process to individuals and evaluate if they are a danger to themselves or others. If so they may temporarily, let me underscore that temporarily, take guns away from those individuals and not allow them to also temporarily purchase other guns. So those types of bills are extremely important.
Yeah. And so before the 2014 massacre, about three weeks before, police responding to some concerned community members did a welfare check on Elliott Rogers. And so do you think that the red flag law could have prevented what happened if they were already in place back then?
I believe so. And I think the law enforcement themselves have opined that that could have been helpful. So absolutely. Yes.
Then our next question is what work still needs to be done as far as legislation goes to avoid events like this happening in the future.
And at the federal level, we need to pass my bill, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, and it also need to pass other laws that continue to, in its totality, bring about safety in our communities and our country, in communities across the country. We need to pass the assault weapons ban that expired, and there is legislation being proposed to do that. But we need to also move forward with more research in NIH and CDC that would enable us to better understand this kind of violence and violence epidemic. We need to address bump starts through legislation and straw purchases as well as ghost guns. We need to do a lot that will bring about a safer country and safer communities.
I had one more question. So as a direct result of the shooting, like right after it, was there more input from the community either about gun control directly after the shooting?
Yes, there was. But let me expand on that. Every time we have a tragedy, and tragedies are happening almost daily– we’ve had hundreds of incidences and we have hundreds of instances every year of gun violence. Not only individuals taking their own lives, but perpetrators. Gun violence in our communities across the country, not just those that get the headlines, but usually those that get the headlines, no doubt create a conversation and increase outrage wanting Congress and legislative bodies throughout the country to pass gun safety laws. There’s a lot of legislation that’s proposed. And after a few weeks, it goes by the wayside. It’s been tragic that that’s happened. It’s a real tragedy that mostly after a tragic, senseless gun violence episode is when there is the highest interest in moving gun safety laws forward. Then that dissipates with time between these high profile, tragic events. And again, not to sound partisan, but overwhelmingly, I think Democrats have responded with legislation, passing legislation of different types. It’s been the party on the other side, the Republican Party, that’s beholden to the NRA and hasn’t really moved forward or collaborated with Democrats to move forward gun safety laws. That’s the reality. And if it wasn’t for the filibuster, we would have more than 50 laws in place. We pass all the laws we can in the House, but in the Senate, that’s where they go to die, regrettably, because we don’t have enough members of the other side of the aisle. And that’s a tragedy.
Are there any further comments that you would like us to include on our project?
We cannot stop advocating overwhelmingly. Poll after poll. Study after study demonstrates that over 70%, over 70%, sometimes 80% of the American people want these gun safety laws passed. So why haven’t been able to do that? And again, I think Democrats have been vigilant and advocates for these laws. We haven’t been able to do so because the environment hasn’t been such in Congress to have the number of votes that are needed to move these types of laws forward. Until the country elects a preponderance of individuals who believe in moving forward gun safety laws, we’re going to struggle to keep these issues alive and to move these laws over the finish line. But as a Democrat, I will tell you, I am proud to be a Democrat. I am proud to be a proponent of sensible gun laws. And I will continue to do so, because unless we do that, we, our communities will not be as safe as they can be by passing more of these important gun safety laws.
Thank you so much. Thank you for the work you’ve done to help mitigate tragedies like this in the future. And we appreciate you taking time out of your day to meet with us in this interview. Yeah.
Thank you for your attention to these important issues. Yeah, of course. And again, when we talk about gun control throw the word safety in that.
Yeah, we will definitely include that.
Because I think I think gun control, the other side who don’t believe in gun safety laws immediately go to the Second Amendment. And we always have to tell people this is not about the Second Amendment. This isn’t about doing away with people’s ability and right to own guns. This is about safety measures. You know, safety locks, safety for the safety procedures and measures that, again, not one law but multiple laws make our community safer. This is not about anybody’s Second Amendment. Thank you so much.
Interviewed by: McKay Kinsey and Aidan Locke