SACRAMENTO — California's gun controls are among the toughest in the nation, but they're severely weakened by Washington's failure to pass strong national laws.
It's sort of like the chain analogy — a chain being only as strong as its weakest link.
California is inescapably linked to Arizona and Nevada, states where it's still the Wild West for gun toting.
But even in Tombstone in the 1800s, the Earp brothers banned packing heat in town, which led to the shootout at OK Corral.
These days, criminals are buying weapons at Arizona and Nevada gun shows and hauling them illegally into California.
Anyone buying a firearm in California — whether at a big box or a gun show — must undergo a background check by the state justice department. And there's a 10-day waiting period.
At a gun show in Arizona or Nevada, in contrast, a buyer can immediately toss the weapon in his car and drive off. Maybe even load it first.
Similarly, assault weapons can't be purchased legally in California. Neither can ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets. But they can be bought in Arizona and Nevada.
When someone can drive 20 minutes across the border into Reno and arm himself, no questions asked, it greatly undermines California's laws that are designed to keep guns out of the hands of felons, mental misfits and wife beaters. It also thwarts our efforts to hold down the number of mass-killing machines such as assault weapons equipped with high-capacity magazines.