(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Marc Levine on Wednesday said he would place a tax on the sale of semiautomatic weapons and use the revenue to support community violence-prevention programs.
Those local efforts would be funded through the existing California Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (CalVIP), which last year awarded more than $8 million in grants to communities hit hard by gun violence.
“The goal is fewer gun deaths,” said Levine. “The gun tax will support the kind of interventions that make gun violence less likely in the first place which is exactly what we need to do.”
CalVIP, which is overseen by the Board of State and Community Corrections, issues grants to cities as well as community-based organizations. Among the cities receiving grants in 2018 were Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, San Bernardino, Stockton, Compton, Vallejo, Pasadena, Salinas, Oxnard and Santa Rosa. More than a dozen community-based organizations serving at-risk youth also received grants of up to $500,000.
The proposed tax will not be the first effort toward reasonable gun violence prevention for Assemblymember Levine, D-Marin County. He authored a bill in 2016 (AB 1135) that finally removed assault rifles like the AR-15 from store shelves by closing the so-called bullet-button loophole, further tightening California’s nation-leading assault weapons ban.
It will also be familiar territory for the advocates of sensible, responsible gun laws, including the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, both of which expressed early support for the proposal.
“The costs of gun violence are staggering,” said Mattie Scott, president of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It takes a toll on our healthcare system, criminal justice system and every community throughout the state. That's why CA
Brady was proud to support funding for locally-based gun violence prevention program through the updated CalVIP program, and the increased oversight and review process that makes these programs more effective. We thank Assemblymember Levine for his effort to keep this funding going in the years to come, while at the same time helping to reduce the gun violence.”
“Gun violence is a public health crisis that demands new and innovative ideas and increased support for neighborhoods reeling from tragedy,” said Ari Freilich, California legislative affairs director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “California's CalVIP grant program is making critical investments in community-driven efforts to intervene and prevent
violence before it occurs, but this program has received inadequate and unstable funding. We applaud Assemblyman Levine for exploring ways to create a new, dedicated funding stream for this lifesaving program and look forward to working with him on this important legislation this year.”
California has long been a national leader in gun restrictions. It adopted its first assault weapons
ban in 1989, a few months after a man with an AK-47 killed five children and wounded 30
others in a Stockton schoolyard.
The state has added layers of regulation since then, but never without significant opposition from
gun makers and their advocacy groups.
“Gun violence is the only epidemic with its own lobbyists, which makes passing common sense
gun laws an uphill struggle,” said Levine, “but making California a safer place by protecting
innocent lives is more than worth the fight.”
Assemblymember Marc Levine represents the 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma Counties