Tough on Crime, Not Guns — Not in California

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, Legal, News

Politicians often give speeches promising stiffer penalties for criminals in an effort to make the people feel safer. Whether or not they are actually safer is often debatable, however. Enhanced penalties for criminals committing their offense with a firearm is a good example.  These laws keep some of the worst offenders off the streets longer and is generally supported by all citizens—or so I thought. That is why it was such a head scratcher when California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law removing mandatory minimum sentences for criminals who use guns in their crimes.

Gavel with American flag

I have never claimed to understand the motives or reasoning of most politicians—especially those who favor gun control and attempt to trample our Second Amendment rights. However, reducing the sentences of criminals who use a firearm to commit a crime, while touting how “tough” you are on guns has me befuddled. Perhaps someone reading this will be better able to explain it to me. After all, anyone who is pro Second Amendment, likely has never found anything in common with lawmakers touting a new proposal as “common sense gun control,” in the first place, but this goes beyond even that.

The new law, SB 620, coupled with other legislation about to take effect, clearly shows that Jerry Brown wants stiffer regulations for law-abiding citizens, while reducing penalties for criminals using a gun in the commission of a crime! This is evidenced by the fact that Governor Brown’s new law follows California’s new requirements for firearms retailers to add a warning to an already lengthy packaging and literature requirements for firearms and ammunition.

Let’s recap this argument, just in case you are having as much trouble following this as I am. Firearms retailers are required to put bigger warning labels on their products because those who legally buy them might not understand firearms and ammunition could be dangerous if not used properly. However, criminals who purposefully use a gun in the commission of a crime won’t be required to do jail time. Someone please explain this to the rest of us…

Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) weighed in saying, “That’s not logical. It’s ludicrous. Prior to this, the law in California required a criminal be sentenced to an additional 10 years on top of the sentencing for their particular crime.”

Few reading this will be surprised at this next part. Governor Brown has a reputation for attracting the idealistic and untraditional. In fact, he earned the sobriquet (nickname) of “Moonbeam” decades ago by a columnist who called California, “The world’s largest outdoor mental asylum.” Proving the nickname to be fitting as fitting today as it was in the 1970s, Moonbeam was not alone in enacting this asinine law; he had the help and consent of the entire California legislature that voted to send it to the governor for his signature!

National Shooting Sports Foundation Logo

Moreover, what prompted the legislature you might wonder…? SB 620, started with Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) who introduced the bill after a 17-year-old involved in a drive-by shooting was sentenced to 25 years even though he denied shooting the gun. Minimum mandatory sentences are typically mandated by the legislature to ensure an even application during sentences and guard against judges who are soft on sentencing. Governor Brown wants to give the power back to the judges to pick and choose when a person convicted of a crime deserves the enhancement, which promotes the revolving door style of justice the law was designed to prevent.

As Larry Keane put it, “It’s comforting to know that California’s law-abiding gun owners will continue to be put under a magnifying glass to satisfy a political agenda that demonizes them while not accomplishing any true measure of safety. Meanwhile, criminals who openly victimize the Golden State’s citizens won’t have to worry about carrying that gun to commit their crimes. Gov. Brown says they no longer have to do the added time.

“This shows clearly that Gov. Brown, and the rest of the anti-gun California legislature, is more interested in scoring cheap points with their political base instead of pursuing and enforcing laws that will protect all citizens.”

How do you feel about California’s new law? Can you explain it? If you were the governor, what law would you push for? Share your answers in the comment section.


Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business,, and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (125)

  • millbob


    This new law (sb-620) like many of the other egregious laws passed in California are a direct result of ill informed and illiterate voters voting for candidates who suppress liberty and freedom, not enforce it. It is no wonder California has the government it does when you consider the poor condition of the educational system in the state. Elections have consequences and the voters don’t seem to realize this. They keep voting for the same party that created the mess and expect different results. The state truly is the biggest outdoor insane asylum and the inmates are in control.


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