Our county is a little bit safer, or it will be soon, because of a relatively minor expenditure authorized by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors last month.

By a unanimous vote, the supes pledged to spend $1 million of your hard-earned money in an effort to keep firearms out of dangerous hands. Is there a more urgent need than that?

Going forward, local law enforcement will have additional means to make sure those legally prohibited from having guns don’t actually have guns. That includes those who have been convicted of a violent crime or are subject to a domestic or workplace restraining order.

This is the sort of thing that sets off a certain kind of constitutional originalist. But, we point out that the Second Amendment to the Constitution speaks of a “well-organized militia,” not an abusive spouse or convicted rapist. Gun control is common sense that remains entirely too uncommon despite hundreds of examples of the wrong people doing the wrong things with guns.

The county’s decision has the support of District 3 Supervisor Don Horsley, and the former sheriff is hardly a wild-eyed liberal looking to take your guns away.

“This is a reasonable, and well-supported, safety issue, and I am grateful to my fellow board members for supporting this funding through Measure K money,” he said in a prepared release after the March 22 vote.

It follows a forum hosted by Horsley and fellow Supervisor Dave Pine and held in partnership with the Giffords Law Center that focused on ways to get guns off the streets. State Attorney General Rob Bonta participated. California has laws that give state and local authorities the tools to remove firearms from indiduals who simply can’t be trusted with them, a list that includes some with certain serious mental issues as well as classes of convicted criminals.

“This funding … will help our local law enforcement officials enforce those laws in what can be a lengthy and dangerous mission to get the guns out of the hands of these individuals,” Pine noted.

You might naively think that violent felons are always barred from possessing weapons, but common sense isn’t all that common. In fact, California is one of only eight states that make an effort to recover weapons from these people. And even here the effort is bullet-ridden. Injury Prevention magazine, using data from the Armed and Prohibited Persons System database found that 19,000 people in California owned 50,000 handguns between them despite being banned from doing so. Those who illegally owned these firearms were clustered around the Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas.

Federal law also bars gun ownership for a range of offenders, including those dishonorably discharged from the military and those living in the country illegally. But the New York Times estimated in 2019 that millions of these people likely own guns. It outlined several high-profile mass shootings attributable to people who should have failed background checks but nonetheless were able to purchase guns.

San Mateo County’s action will not end this problem. But, as the saying goes, if it gets one gun out of one murderous hand, that is worth every penny.

— Clay Lambert

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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