Commentary: Cook’s Corner, Anaheim Hills and Irvine tragedies highlight urgent need for national gun reform

A motorcyclist pays his respects at a memorial to the mass shooting victims at Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon in August.
A motorcyclist pays his respects at a growing memorial to the mass shooting victims at Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon on Aug. 29.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In the days following the Cook’s Corner shooting in Trabuco Canyon that left three dead and six injured, Orange County residents increasingly call for national gun reform. This August was a particularly deadly month for Orange County gun violence deaths. On Aug. 3 a man died in a car-to-car shooting in Irvine and an Orange County Superior Court Judge pulled a gun from an ankle holster and shot his wife to death on the same day. Just last year, the Laguna Woods Presbyterian Church shooting that left one dead and five injured, and 6-year-old Aiden Leos was shot and killed in a road rage incident by a ghost gun on the 55 freeway in Orange County on his way to kindergarten. These horrific tragedies have us pleading with our representatives in Congress to act urgently to protect their constituents from gun violence. According to a 2022 poll conducted by Politico, 81% of all Americans support requiring background checks on all gun sales. Keeping our communities safe remains our office’s top priority — which is why we strongly support national gun reform legislation that will keep Orange County families safer.

The frequency and severity of gun-related deaths are deeply troubling. In 2021, approximately 49,000 Americans died because of gun violence — and gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in our country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to a 2022 UC Irvine review of shootings in Orange County over 11 years, about once every six weeks a wife or girlfriend is killed by her current or former intimate partner, such as her husband or boyfriend. Additionally, according to Everytown, a gun violence prevention organization, intimate partner violence leads to nearly half of all mass shootings in this country.


The most recent tragedy at Cook’s Corner is the ninth mass shooting in Orange County history, with 44% of those shootings involving intimate partner violence. Orange County residents agree, we can protect the 2nd Amendment while simultaneously allowing elected officials to enact modern gun safety laws that are appropriate for our communities.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, a co-chair of the Spent Fuel Solutions coalition, writes of an urgent need to remove spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre plant south of Orange County.

Aug. 15, 2023

In a country that has more guns than people, we must implement additional harm reduction efforts to ensure firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands. Keeping firearms from those under the age of 21 and those with violent misdemeanors through conducting background checks has proven effective in reducing gun deaths. Everytown conducted a study which found that states with laws requiring background checks for all gun sales, such as California, have a 10% lower homicide rates than states that do not require background checks on all gun sales. An April 2023 Fox News poll shows that implementing common sense gun laws have become extremely popular – with 81% of voters in favor of raising the age to purchase guns to 21.

Access to illegal firearms between unlicensed private parties and those with violent offenses, specifically those with a history of domestic violence, should not go unaccounted. According to a 2019 study by the California Department of Justice, there were 90 reported homicides where the contributing circumstance was a domestic violence argument in the state of California. In California, keeping firearms out of the hands of abusers has been effective through legislation such as Gun Violence Restraining Orders or “red flag laws”. However, offenders found a loophole in purchasing firearms through private transfer. As of now, there is no national legislation requiring a background check for the private purchase of guns — the Background Check Expansion Act aims to close this loophole.

In 2022, Congress moved to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most substantial piece of gun legislation in 30 years. While this piece of legislation has remained effective, we can do more to save lives. Now, a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress call on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to bring the Background Check Expansion Act, an expansion of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, to the floor of the House. This bill would require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms — not just for those under 21. This requirement will extend to all unlicensed sellers, including those at gun shows. Every moment this piece of legislation stalls on the Speaker’s desk, more firearms get into the wrong hands. Speaker McCarthy must bring the Background Check Expansion Act to the floor for a vote.

The gun violence epidemic runs unabated through our communities, leaving our children scarred and towns forever changed. Breaking the political gridlock on Capitol Hill will not come easy — but is necessary to save lives. We encourage you to call your local Congress member and urge them to demand Speaker McCarthy bring the Background Check Expansion Act to the House floor for a vote of the United States House of Representatives.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley serves the Fifth District on the Board of Supervisors.

Grace McNeill resides in District 5 while not in college as a sophomore studying political science at Loyola Marymount University and helped as a summer intern for Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.