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2016: More Cops Murdered As Gun Control Laws Fail

November 30, 2016

Tragically, 2016 marks an exceptionally deadly year for California law enforcement. Sixteen of California’s finest lost their lives in the line of duty. And in every instance where an officer was murdered by gunfire, the suspect was a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm.

This month, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office filed formal murder charges against a man who shot and killed Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace. The man is also accused of first-degree robbery, carjacking, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace

In October, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office filed formal murder charges against a man who shot and killed Los Angeles County Sheriff Sgt. Steven Owens. The murderer, also a convicted felon who couldn’t legally acquire or possess a gun or ammunition, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of first-degree residential robbery, false imprisonment by violence, and the unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

LASD Sgt. Steven Owen (left), memorial outside the LASD Lancaster Station (right).

In a story that gained national headlines, the Riverside District Attorney’s office has filed formal charges against the cowardly felon who ambushed and murdered Palm Springs police officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny. In addition to murder, the man faces charges of attempted murder, unlawful possession of an “assault weapon,” unlawful use of body armor during the commission of a violent crime, unlawful possession of “armor-piercing” ammunition, unlawful possession of stolen property, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. The murderer said that he “wanted to gun down police officers because they wore the uniform.”

Photos of officers Vega and Zerebny on display during a press conference.

And only two weeks later, Modoc County Sheriff’s Deputy Jack Hopkins, who was responding to a family disturbance call in a rural area, was shot and killed by a man who now faces formal charges for murder, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Modoc County Sheriff’s Deputy Jack Hopkins

In July, San Diego Police Officer Jonathan M. DeGuzman was sitting in his police car as his partner conducted a subject stop when he was shot and killed.  DeGuzman’s partner who had exited the vehicle to approach the man was also injured in the encounter. The man who killed Officer DeGuzman has been charged with murder, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

San Diego Police Officer Jonathan DeGuzman

This year, Bruno, a German Shepard working with the Anaheim Police Department, succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained two years prior. Bruno was shot twice as he pursued a suspect who fled upon officers arriving at an apartment for a probation check.  The officers returned fire and killed the suspect.  The suspect, who was on probation after being recently released from state prison, was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. Bruno was medically retired following the shooting and died from complications of a surgery.

K9 Officer Bruno (left), with his partner and handler, Officer R.J. Young (right)

CRPA prays for the families of these fallen heroes, and that the murdering cowards responsible will face swift and harsh justice. In addition to the above officers, CRPA would like to recognize Sergeant Rod Lucas, Sergeant Alfonso Lopez, Officer Michael J. Katherman, Officer Nathan Taylor, Deputy Sheriff Scott Ballantyne, K9 Ty Vom Friedrichsfelder Eck, K9 Credo, K9 Jag, and K9 Jojo, all of whom lost their lives in the line of duty in 2016.

Criminals Don’t Do Background Checks

As usual, the gun ban lobby is already blaming “easy access” to firearms and again clamoring for more and more gun control laws.

So how “easy” was it for these bad guys to get the guns they used to murder these officers?

For years, gun control advocates have lobbied for “universal” background checks for all firearm purchases. But no law will stop a criminal from getting the tool of his trade on the black-market. Having failed to sway a majority of support in a Congress that sees through false claims about the effectiveness of such proposals, Michael Bloomberg and other rich elitists like him poured millions of dollars into state campaigns with the same goals in mind. These passed in Nevada and Oregon, but failed in Maine.

Do background checks actually prevent criminal access to firearms? No way. As Dr. John Lott has made clear, 22 of 24 statistical comparisons related to changes in the murder rate against women and law enforcement shows “no change in crimes or suicides as a result of [“universal”] background checks.” In fact, “one shows that states with expanded background checks on transfers had a large increase in police gun deaths.” And this should come as no surprise to anyone, as it has been shown time and time again that the majority of criminals acquired their firearms through theft, the black-market, or other sources that don’t require background checks.

California already has a “universal” background check system requiring all gun purchases, including purchases at gun shows, to be processed through a licensed California firearms dealer who conducts a background check on the buyer and holds the gun 10 days before delivery. If “universal” background checks really prevented criminals from obtaining firearms, none of the California cop-killers would have been able to obtain a firearm. And if California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” worked, how did the killer in Palm Springs get his hands on one?

California also has the strictest firearm laws in the nation, with over 800 statutes and hundreds more regulations ranging from “universal” background checks, bans on so-called “assault weapons” and “large-capacity” magazines, misdemeanor convictions resulting in 10-year firearm restrictions, and a complete firearm owner registration system.

Not one of these laws prevented these terrible tragedies. Tellingly, after it became clear that those responsible for the latest murders had prior convictions prohibiting them from possessing firearms in the first place, media advocacy for gun control waned because the deaths of officers Vega, Zerebny, and Owen no longer fit the gun control “easy access” narrative.

Prop 63 Won’t Help

Following recent high profile national events, rank and file law enforcement officers are facing an unprecedented assault from the public, the media, and legislatures alike. California voters recently passed Proposition 63, a dangerous and deceptive voter initiative that not only is an assault on gun owners, but an assault on law enforcement as well.

As all major law enforcement organizations who represent hundreds of thousands of California police officers have recognized, Proposition 63 will do nothing to keep us safer from criminals or terrorists. But Proposition 63 will divert scarce law enforcement resources away from effective policy and will pile more work on an already overburdened court system.

For these and many other reasons, Proposition 63 was overwhelmingly opposed by the law enforcement community and civil rights groups alike. The California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Reserve Peace Officers Association, California Correction Peace Officers Association, Western States Sheriffs’ Association, Law Enforcement Action Network, California Fish & Game Wardens’ Association, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association have all publicly stated their opposition. Not a single law enforcement group expressed support for Proposition 63.

Dr. John Lott, writing for Fox News, pointed out that many of the purported claims in support of Proposition 63 are inaccurate. So much so, in fact, that Politifact rated Newsom’s rhetoric as “mostly false.” What’s more, prosecutor Michele Hanisee, head of the Deputy District Attorneys’ Association, referred to Newsom’s claims as “pseudo data” that is “out of context as is done in a way which is calculated to cause confusion.”

The bottom line is that gun control legislation only serves to create an illusion of public safety. It makes people who don’t understand the real facts feel safer, even though they aren’t safer. Of the thousands of individuals who are denied a firearm purchase as a result of failing a background check, only a handful of those ever face criminal charges. Those same unprosecuted individuals continue to roam free and acquire a firearm elsewhere on the black-market. And as we have recently seen in California, this often has tragic consequences.

No amount of gun control will ever prevent those focused on harming others from carrying out their evil intentions, especially in states like California, which already has the strictest firearm laws in the nation. Instead of pushing feel good solutions, we should be demanding solutions that work, and enforcing the laws that we already have.

To learn more about the heroic California officers who tragically lost their lives this year in the line of duty, or to help their families, please visit the Officer Down Memorial Page website.

Tragically, 2016 marks an exceptionally deadly year for California law enforcement. Sixteen of California’s finest lost their lives in the line of duty. And in every instance where an officer was murdered by gunfire, the suspect was a con

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