BASF Statement on Gun Violence: California’s Laws Work
June 22, 2022, San Francisco —The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) deplores the mass murder of members of the Buffalo Black community, the killing of school children in Uvalde and the spree of mass shootings that occurred since these tragedies.
Both of the gunmen in Buffalo and Uvalde were just 18 years old, too young to legally purchase alcohol or cigarettes, but old enough—outside of California at least—to arm themselves with assault-style weapons.
American society is drowning in guns. Our political discourse is drowning in hate. And yet, there are things that we, as lawyers and advocates, have achieved and must continue to achieve.
“For decades, BASF has urged gun control laws to be enacted and enforced,” said Yolanda Jackson, BASF Executive Director and General Counsel. In the wake of the 1993 mass shooting of lawyers and legal professionals at 101 California Street, then-BASF President Karen D. Kadushin called on the legal community to get engaged: “Lawyers must be in the forefront of the support of the rule of law over the rule of force. We must act and act now.”
In July of 1993, a group of partners at Pettit & Martin, including Chuck Ehrlich, John Heisse, Larry Low, and Cam Baker, whose offices the gunman stormed, formed the Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV). BASF supported their call for passage of the Brady Bill. The LCAV became the Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence (LCPGV), the premier advocacy body supporting gun control measures, and then merged with the Giffords Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence. In the decades since 101 California, and as a result of the advocacy of groups such as LCAV/LCPGV, our state legislature introduced a suite of measures, including an assault weapons ban. California’s legislation has markedly reduced the incidences of injury and death from guns. There is no perfect solution, but California’s legislative actions show that we can make notable progress in harm reduction. According to the CDC and the Giffords Law Center, California has among the lowest incidence of death from gun violence per capita in the country. Since the early 1990s, when tough gun control laws were enacted, deaths from gun violence have dropped by more than half.
“At a time when school children learn active shooter drills and Black people are demonized via the poison of the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, let California’s example show the rest of the country that armed civic breakdown is not inevitable,” said BASF President, Mary McNamara. “BASF urges our sister bar associations across the country to advocate for the kind of common sense measures that made California safer than all the other states in the union,” McNamara stated.
The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.