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    To Stop the Shootings, We Must Stop the Illegal Guns

    rebecThroughout the United States, attention to the problem of gun violence seems to rise when there is a well-publicized shooting, but often does not last, and fails to result in real action being taken.

    If we are serious about stopping gun violence, we need to take action against the flow of illegal guns. In Oakland and elsewhere, a simple argument can turn into a shooting if the people involved have guns. Those who are profiting from bringing guns into our community from places with weaker gun laws must be caught and stopped. We have learned that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes are being committed by people who obtained their guns illegally.

    Shutting down access to illegal guns is a necessary step in reducing gun violence.

    This means we need our State and Federal officials to act to help stop the flow of guns from other States into our communities. We need to close the background check loophole nationwide. And, at the local level, we need to increase support to track down and shut down the sources of guns being used in local crimes.

    That is why I am proud that I fought for, and won, funding in the new City of Oakland budget to specifically focus on stopping gun crime. This work will include tracking down and shutting down sources of illegal guns, and more.

    We need to improve police response to shootings, including responding when gun shots begin—even before someone is hit by a bullet—to catch people engaged in shootings, stop things before they escalate, and take guns off the street.

    And we need the help of the public too. One of the sources of guns used in crimes involves guns stolen from the homes of the public. Please do not leave a gun where it could be stolen. We need to strengthen prohibitions on anyone leaving guns and ammunition in a place where it can easily be taken—like the back seat of an unattended vehicle. And encourage everyone to avoid being a part of the problem of gun violence.

    The United States does not need to continue to lead the world in gun violence, but is choosing to inadequately crack down on illegal gun dealing because of the power and wealth of the opposition. Inadequate Federal dedication to stop illegal guns is causing violence and suffering throughout our communities.

    In order to build safer communities, particularly since many of the guns are coming from out of State, we will need to continue to urge our State and Federal leaders to take stronger action, especially on background check loopholes and illegal gun dealers. And, at the local level, we need to strengthen our own tracking and response to shootings, and make clear that we will not tolerate the spread of illegal guns and gun violence in our communities.

    Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide councilmember. She was re-elected in 2012 and serves currently as Vice Mayor. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Vice Mayor Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a Master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.