What Are San Bernardino Gun Laws Like? An Elementary School Shooting Has Left Several Victims

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UPDATE: An 8-year-old student was confirmed dead in the aftermath of the shooting at North Park Elementary School. Jonathan Martinez was pronounced dead after being airlifted to the hospital. According to San Bernardino County Police Department Chief Jarrod Burguan, two adults also died in what is believed to be a murder suicide. North Park Elementary School teacher Karen Elaine Smith was reportedly shot and killed by her husband, who then killed himself. Another student is in the hospital in stable condition.

EARLIER: On Monday afternoon, multiple news outlets reported numerous gunshot victims from a shooting at North Park School, an elementary school in San Bernadino, California. According to tweets sharing preliminary information published by Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, four victims were being treated and two students had been transported to the hospital. It was later confirmed that two adults had been killed in the attack. "We believe this to be a murder suicide," he wrote. "Happened in a class room." As always in these (unfortunately common) situations, observers are wondering what gun laws in the affected area are like.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, California has the strictest gun control measures in the United States. The state has actually been ranked first place in the group's annual state laws scorecard every year since their first report in 2010; in 2016, it received the first 'A' grade after implementing the Safety for All Act.

Currently, the state of California has a ban on three major categories of firearms:

  1. Category One: Weapons listed in the The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989, which forbids semi-automatic rifles, carbines capable of holding over 20 bullets, and short-barrel shotguns with a capacity of six or more shells.
  2. Category Two: Weapons listed in the Kasler v. Lockyer Assault Weapon List.
  3. Category Three: Weapons containing certain characteristics which place them in the "assault weapons" category.

In addition, California forbids open carrying of all firearms; makes possession of firearms illegal for domestic abusers; demands universal background checks; implements a 10-day waiting period for the transfer of a firearm from a seller to a purchaser; mandates that mental health records be sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; deems a person criminally liable for negligently storing a firearm somewhere a minor could gain access to it; reinforces limitations for concealed carry permits; gives family members and law enforcement officers the right to file for gun violence restraining orders and disarm firearm owners who show signs of inflicting harm on themselves or others.

While gun violence still occurs in California — perhaps the most notable being the 2015 terror attack which also took place in San Bernadino — it's important to mention that the state's gun control measures do seem to have it a low-probability place for these kinds of tragedies. According to a 2016 report by the American Journal of Medicine, California ranked as number eight on the list of ten states with the least gun violence.

This is the second shooting to be carried out in an elementary school since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012.