UPDATED 2:50 p.m.: Following Monday’s murder-suicide at a San Bernardino, California elementary school that also tragically took the life of an 8-year-old student, there was predictable talk about increased gun control, although this happened in a state with among the toughest gun control laws in the country.
According to the San Bernardino County Sun, a Redlands police sergeant identified as Andy Capps was quoted observing, “The common denominator, clearly, is guns and gun violence. Hopefully, our lawmakers will do whatever they can to make us all safer.”
Golden State gun rights activists could easily respond that lawmakers in Sacramento have spent the past quarter-century passing all manner of increasingly restrictive gun laws that all promised to “make us safer.” Monday’s fatal shooting at North Park Elementary clearly demonstrated that those gun laws failed in their promise, and didn’t make anyone safer.
The Sun further reported that the gunman, identified as 53-year-old Cedric Anderson, was armed with a six-shot .357 Magnum revolver, and he was able to reload at least once, using a commonly-owned device called a “speed loader.” These are not spare magazines.
But there is more, as reported by Heavy.com, that raises more questions than answers. Anderson, who committed suicide, had a record that included being charged with brandishing some type of weapon, assault and battery and disturbing the peace in Los Angeles County. That weapon was reportedly not a firearm.
According to the report, “The case was dismissed in 2014.”
The Sun reported Tuesday afternoon that, “Anderson was arrested four times between 1982 and 2013…for charges including non-gun weapons charges, domestic violence and theft, but never convicted.”
Anderson had also been arrested in 1993 in Kern County, the report added, “on charges of battery with serious bodily injury and battery on a person.” That case, Heavy.com said, “was also dismissed.” CBS News reported Tuesday morning that “he was reportedly exonerated six months after the case was filed and both charges were dropped.”
Heavy.com said it was “not clear if his criminal record would have prevented him from legally owning a gun.” Authorities are trying to determine whether he legally owned the gun.
So, on at least two previous occasions, criminal charges had been filed and later dismissed against Anderson.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that he violated the law against carrying a gun into a school. If it turns out he did not have a carry permit, he was carrying a concealed handgun illegally, because school authorities let him in and they reportedly didn’t see the firearm.
And it is also a crime to commit murder.
Eighteen months ago, San Bernardino was rocked by the terrorist act that killed 14 people before the man-and-wife suspects died in a barrage of gunfire from police. California’s rigid gun laws didn’t prevent that incident, but critics have argued that the laws did prevent the victims from being armed and able to fight back.
Almost three years ago, Santa Barbara spree killer Elliot Rodger killed six people. He murdered three with a knife and then shot three others. He passed the state’s background check to purchase three handguns on three different occasions, so he passed three such checks.
Kate Steinle was killed on a San Francisco pier, allegedly by an illegal alien using a gun that had been stolen from a federal law enforcement officer. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was a repeat felon with seven convictions and he had been deported five times. The gun was a .40-caliber pistol taken from the car of a ranger with the Bureau of Land Management about three months before the shooting.
Each of these incidents begs the question, what has restrictive gun control in California accomplished? You won’t find the answer in San Bernardino.