In wake of another mass shooting, Fremont calls for stringent gun control

More than 100 people gathered in Fremont Tuesday evening to honor the Orlando massacre victims and to call for gun law reform.

Currently, 11 gun-related bills are advancing through committees in the California Legislature. 

The package was introduced after the San Bernardino mass killings in December, but has gained even more momentum in light of the 49 Florida murders this past weekend.

"We are going to stand united," declared speaker Moina Shaiq of the Tri-City Interfaith Council. "We will show the world that love is greater than hate."

The gathering was held at Veterans Memorial Park, where the flag is lowered to half-staff.   
"This is gun violence provoked by hate, racism and homophobia, " exclaimed speaker Laurie Manuel, who heads the city's Arts Commission and is a member of the LGBT community.

Speaker after speaker denounced how unstable, violent, or vengeful people are able to gain legal access to firearms, even in California, which has the strictest gun laws in the nation.

"Only a week ago, a couple of our policemen were shot right here, a couple of blocks away," noted Dr. Mohamad Rajabally, a Fremont dentist. "There is hate."

The protest moved from the plaza to the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway, where participants stood on all four corners to wave signs, provoking honks of support from passing commuters.  

"The American people have had enough," said Toni Shellen, of the Tri-City Chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence. The organization has more than two dozen chapters in California. It works to tighten gun laws, pushing for a national standard on background checks, because existing laws differ from state to state, making it easy to skirt them.

Critics also say gun shows and Internet sales are full of loopholes, allowing almost anyone to buy a weapon or large amounts of ammunition. States also don't have access to Homeland Security watch lists, resulting in a so-called "terror gap."

"Somebody can be so dangerous they're on the "no-fly list," too dangerous to board a flight, and yet they can go buy a gun," complained Shellen. 

Among the bills progressing in Sacramento: a limit of one gun purchase per month, and identification required to buy ammunition so a prohibited buyer can be blocked.

"We should be focusing on the perpetrator, the criminal who was willing to commit this kind of act, " argued Sam Paredes, Executive Director of the Gun Owners of California.

Paredes has testified, along with NRA lobbyists, against new laws, insisting guns aren't the issue, behavior is.

"The AR-15 was used by this criminal because of its effectiveness, " noted Paredes, referring to the Florida shooter,"but you have to look at the other side. It is also an effective tool for law abiding citizens to protect themselves and defend themselves."

But Shellen says a high capacity assault rifle belongs on a battlefield, not in a gun store.

"These guns are made specifically to kill a lot of people quickly," she observed. Most of those who gathered in solidarity with Orlando don't consider themselves activists, but are dismayed and frustrated by inaction, even after repeated gun massacres.

"There has to be a point where we say enough, " protester Rebecca Boyer-Taylor said tearfully. “And I have to be a person who says it's not alright. I don't have the answers but I want my lawmakers to find the answers. That's why we vote for them."

California runs prospective gun buyers through two dozen databases.

The Orlando gunman most likely would have passed them, because he had no convictions or court orders. But in California, unlike Florida, he would be restricted in what he could legally buy because California bans most assault style weapons and high capacity magazines.