The West

Fact check: Were existing gun laws enough to prevent Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton shootings?

Rep. Devin Nunes, a California congressman, said Sunday that America doesn’t need new gun regulation laws to prevent mass shootings.

Instead, he said, the nation’s existing laws are sufficient.

But each of the three shooters who carried out attacks in the past week used legally purchased firearms. California’s more restrictive gun control laws, which Nunes does not support, could have prevented them if the state’s restrictions applied across the country.

Nunes, R-Tulare, was speaking to Fresno’s NBC affiliate, KSEE24, when he was asked about gun control in wake of the mass shootings in Dayton, which killed nine and injured 27on Sunday, El Paso, which killed 22 and injured 24 on Saturday, and Gilroy, which killed three and injured 12 on July 28.

Nunes brought up a frequent Republican position on mass shootings — that more laws to regulate guns are not needed at the federal level.

“The gun laws we have in place now are sufficient, in my opinion. We need to make sure that they’re enforced,” Nunes said. “I haven’t seen all the details yet as to the motives and the guns that were used.”

The Gilroy shooter, who was 19 and shot and killed during the attack, legally purchased his assault-style rifle in Nevada three weeks before the shooting, police said.

California law bars the type of rifle the shooter used on July 28. The state generally prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a firearm, with exceptions for hunters, law enforcement officers and military service members.

That weapon could not be sold in California; that weapon cannot be imported into the state of California,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra at a press conference in San Francisco.

Nevada law, however, allows residents 18 and older to purchase assault rifles, although they have to pass a background check if they buy from a federally licensed gun seller.

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The owner of the gun store Big Mike Guns and Ammo in Fallon, Nev. shared a post on Facebook last week acknowledging that the Gilroy shooter “ordered the rifle off my internet page” and condemning the shooting. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shows the store is a federally licensed firearms dealer, which means the shooter would have undergone a background check to obtain his gun.

It’s the same story for the El Paso and Dayton shooters — both used assault-style weapons that are illegal to buy in California, but that the shooters appear to have bought legally in other states.

The El Paso shooter, who is 21 and currently in police custody, used an AK-47-style assault rifle, which El Paso police have said he purchased legally.

The Dayton shooter, who was 24 and shot and killed by police during the attack, used a .223 caliber AR-15-style assault rifle, which Dayton police chief Richard Biehl said there’s “nothing in this individual’s record that would have precluded him from getting” the weapons he used.

California law specifically lists all guns in the AK series or the Colt AR-15 series as assault weapons covered by the state ban.

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Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.