Dems Battle Each Other Over Gun Control

GunSeeking to bolster his early-bird campaign for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom forged ahead with a controversial ballot initiative designed to put severe strictures on guns in California. But in addition to raising the ire of Republicans statewide, Newsom has begun to clash with members of his own party in Sacramento, who don’t share his vision of the right political strategy on the issue in November and beyond.

Exploiting divides

Beyond “checks for ammunition purchases — like those already in place for guns — the measure would ban possession of large-capacity rifle magazines, require gun owners to notify police when their weapons are lost or stolen, and enact rules for courts to confiscate guns from criminals who are prohibited from possessing them,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “Other provisions would reclassify possession of a stolen gun as a felony and require California to share its background check information with the FBI.”

“Newsom said supporters will submit 600,000 signatures on petitions to qualify an initiative that would strengthen California’s gun-control laws, already some of the strictest in the nation. They need 365,880 signatures of registered voters to make the ballot.”

In 1982, the paper noted, gun control advocates’ last effort at taking their agenda directly to voters resulted in defeat at the hands of a well-organized opposition mobilized by the National Rifle Association. Republicans have already begun to plan for a similar effort. Congressional candidate Tim Donnelly called Newsom’s plan a “disaster” that would spur outsized Republican turnout at the polls, according to the Sacramento Bee. “Donnelly, who was once cited for bringing a loaded gun to an airport, said in recent months he’s become an even bigger supporter of gun rights, citing the terror attack in San Bernardino,” the paper added.

Two different playbooks

With the state GOP divided and stunned by Donald Trump’s sweep toward the Republican nomination for president, however, Newsom has not put a great deal of stock in opposition to his plan from the right. On the left, however, he has stepped on the toes of legislative Democrats, complicating his plans considerably. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, “wants him to agree to step aside if the issue can gain traction in the Legislature by June,” as the Los Angeles Times reported. De León “warned his fellow Democrat in a private letter on Thursday that pursuing the initiative could ‘derail’ gun control” — but “Newsom wrote back later Thursday urging de León to join his initiative drive. He voiced skepticism about legislative efforts to address gun control, adding that the measure de León supports is ‘fundamentally different’ from his ballot measure, the Safety for All Act.”

“Newsom said only an initiative, for instance, can amend part of 2014’s criminal justice measure, Proposition 47 — a portion that critics say would allow people convicted of theft of a firearm to be charged with a lesser crime than felony grand theft.”

For their part, Critical Democrats have expressed worries that Newsom is willing to risk a political miscalculation in order to establish his brand as a proactive progressive who shouldn’t be seriously challenged in his run for higher office.

Although both de León and Newsom could benefit from support from within the governor’s mansion, neither has managed to lock it in. “Evan Westrup, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, maintained the governor has not taken a position on this initiative and generally doesn’t comment on pending ballot measures,” Fox News reported. “But in 2013 the governor vetoed a proposed reporting of stolen or lost firearms, saying he was ‘not convinced that criminalizing the failure to report a lost or stolen firearm would improve identification of gun traffickers or help law enforcement disarm people prohibited from possessing guns.’”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Threats of Increased Gun Control Result in Increased Statewide Sales

GunCalifornia’s experience with gun control and gun sales has created an ironic situation with significant implications for policy: Tighter regulations have increased along with firearms purchases.

The phenomenon cuts both for and against the prevailing party platforms on the political Left and Right. “The increase in handgun sales coincides with a dip in gun-related crimes,” for example, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, lending support to conservatives’ insistence that most gun owners have no interest in breaking the law and no greater inclination toward violence. “The number of aggravated assaults in California involving a firearm dropped from more than 23,000 in 2005 to less than 16,000 last year,” the paper added. “The number of gun-related murders fell from 1,845 to 1,169 over the same time period.”

Growing unease

On the other hand, the statistics also reinforce the liberal contention that even very strict controls on guns can leave the Second Amendment intact, preserving citizens’ sport shooting and self-defense interests. In a further irony, however, the data indicates that robust gun sales have been boosted by a widespread perception among current gun owners that access to weaponry is being progressively sealed off.  “While more handguns are being sold in California, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are more gun owners. Some researchers have found the number of American households that own a firearm is at a 40-year low, even though transactions are climbing. This suggests a smaller group of people is collecting more weapons,” the Chronicle surmised.

The state’s 2014 ban on openly carrying unloaded guns, going into effect at the beginning of 2016, was “not expected to slow the growth in gun sales,” as SFist noted. Other new rules taking effect on the first of the year required that “pellet, BB, and airsoft guns must be brightly colored, to help distinguish them,” and that “concealed carry permit holders will no longer be allowed to bring their weapons onto school grounds or college campuses,” as the Christian Science Monitor reported.

But another impending law has raised the ire of a relatively broad group of activists and interest groups. January 1 triggers legislation, written and passed in the aftermath of the Isla Vista shooting, that “gives the police or family members the option to petition the courts to seize the guns and ammunition of someone they think poses a threat,” as the Guardian observed — “the first law of its kind in the country.”

Diminishing returns?

But, the paper noted, this so-called gun violence restraining order “has raised concerns from lawmakers and pro-gun groups about civil liberties and questions about how effective it will really be.” The now-customary wave of litigation set to emerge from the uncertain legal landscape was expected to refine the law’s implications, which legislators in Sacramento haggled over on the way to passage. “It will become clearer after petitions begin to flow through the California courts what kind of evidence, minimally, could result in the issuance of a temporary firearms restraining order,” according to the Guardian.

Other new restrictions on guns proposed this election season have raised further questions. While Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has begun campaigning on a policy that “would prohibit their possession and require anyone who has them to sell to a licensed firearm dealer, transfer them out of state or relinquish them to law enforcement for disposal,” as the Sacramento Bee reported, Gov. Jerry Brown has instead played up the limits of California restrictions that aren’t mirrored or reinforced by neighboring states and the federal government. “We have among the strictest gun control regulations in the country, and it doesn’t do us that much good if other states and the federal government is basically passive in this effort to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Brown told CNN, according to the Bee.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Latest Idea To Curb 2nd Amendment Gun Rights Won’t Fly

No-Fly-List

Image courtesy of minutemennews.com

It’s a great idea to ban terrorists and suspected terrorists from buying firearms, but the U.S. government’s “No Fly List” can’t be used to do it.

The problem is that the no-fly list is secret. The government won’t say who’s on it, or how they got on it, or how they can get off it.

“The U.S. government does not reveal whether a particular person is on or not on a watchlist,” the Department of Homeland Security explains on its website. “If the government revealed this information, terrorist organizations would be able to circumvent the watchlist’s purpose by determining in advance which of their members were likely to be questioned or detained.”

That means the use of the no-fly list for gun sales might actually be helpful to terrorists, but there’s an even more serious problem with the idea. It crumbles the foundation of all your constitutional rights: due process of law.

The U.S. Constitution twice guarantees due process of law to every person. It’s in the Fifth and 14th Amendments. But what does it mean, exactly?

At the time of the founding of the nation, “due process” meant the ordinary procedures of the law, the opposite of arbitrary power.

In our era, the U.S. Supreme Court has given “due process” a broader meaning. The term now encompasses a general right to fundamental fairness.

But by either definition, the government can’t deny a basic constitutional right to any person just by placing them on a secret government list.

The no-fly list is a subset of the U.S. government’s terrorist watchlist, which is administered by the FBI and the Justice Department in cooperation with the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State and Treasury, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to the DHS website, “Intelligence and law enforcement agencies nominate individuals for the watchlist based on established criteria.”

What criteria? Established by whom? We don’t know and they’re not going to tell us, and that’s fine for a screening tool to prevent some passengers from boarding planes. There is no explicit constitutional right to travel on commercial flights.

But there certainly is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In order for the government’s terrorist watchlist to be used as the basis for limiting that right, it will have to be made public. Otherwise, innocent people will be denied their rights based on mistakes, like the ones DHS is trying to sort out with its Traveler Redress Inquiry Program.

“Many people erroneously believe that they are experiencing a screening delay because they are on a watchlist,” DHS says on its website. “In fact, such delays are often caused merely by a name similarity to another person who is on the watchlist. Ninety-nine percent of individuals who apply for redress are not on the terrorist watchlist, but are misidentified as people who are.”

With an error rate that high, the government’s use of the watchlist must be watched.

President Obama called it “insane” that people on the no-fly list can buy guns, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, agreed with him. But it’s not insane to protect innocent people from secret government actions against them.

Limits on government power are what make the United States a free country. In other places, officials can simply decide to do anything, to anybody, at any time, for any reason. Not here.

Americans have rights that cannot be taken away by the arbitrary actions of government officials.

That’s the deal we signed, and we’re going to hold them to it.

California’s Gun Sales Break Records

As reported by the Contra Costa Times:

Amid a new round of debate over gun control, Californians have already bought a record number of firearms in 2015, including major spikes in sales on Black Friday and the days after the San Bernardino attacks, an analysis of new federal and state data show.

Firearms purchases in California triggered 1.51 million federal background checks in the first 11 months of the year, breaking the previous annual record of 1.47 million set last year.

And December typically brings even more firearms purchases than any other month, whether for holiday gifts or getting ahead of new gun restrictions the new year might bring.

The gun dealers’ holiday season got off to a rousing start. State data requested by this newspaper show that sales transactions spiked on …

Click here to read the full article 

Nevada governor hits back against Jerry Brown’s gun control comments

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Sunday joined the governor of Arizona in hitting back California Gov. Jerry Brown’s comments that their states’ lenient gun laws are a “gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

Brown, asked in Paris on Saturday if stricter gun control laws were warranted following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, said, “California has some of the toughest gun control laws of any state. And Nevada and Arizona are wide open, so that’s a gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said in a prepared statement Sunday that Brown’s remarks were “wrong and irresponsible.”

“This type of political rhetoric is discouraging to hear at a time when all Americans are looking for thoughtful, honest leadership,” she said.

Gun Rights Lawsuit Targets L.A.’s Prohibition of High-Capacity Magazines

IMG_0383With gun rights and regulations emerging as a hot-button issue in California politics, the city of Los Angeles has provoked a high-profile lawsuit against a recent prohibition on so-called high-capacity magazines.

“This summer, the City Council banned possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition,” the Associated Press recalled. “Owners have until Nov. 18 to sell the magazines, take them out of the city or surrender them to police.” Failure to abide by the new law would result in a misdemeanor. The July ban came in the wake of reports issued by the L.A. city attorney, accordingto Courthouse News; it went into effect last month.

Bringing suit

The response from law enforcement and gun enthusiasts has been swift. Thirty sheriffs statewide brought suit against the ban, joined by the California Reserve Peace Officers Association and the Golden State’s National Rifle Association affiliate, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, noted the Los Angeles Daily News. “Since 2000, California has outlawed manufacturing or selling high-capacity magazines, but Los Angeles’ ordinance goes further, making it illegal to possess them,” the paper added.

That statewide rule factored into the logic driving the lawsuit. According to the plaintiffs, “when Los Angeles banned gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds in July, it ‘land locked’ gun owners who already had the legal weapons,” Courthouse News reported:

“Lead plaintiff Shasta County Sheriff Thomas Bosenko says that California has regulated the sale, possession and use of high-capacity magazines — those that hold more than 10 bullets — since Jan. 1, 2000. High-capacity magazines legally acquired before that date were exempt from the state’s ‘regulatory scheme’ and grandfathered in, according to the Oct. 23 lawsuit.”

But some legal analysts have already suggested that the lawsuit could be in vain. “Cities including Sunnyvale and San Francisco also ban possession of high-capacity magazines and have successfully fended off lawsuits from the NRA,” the Daily News observed.

A broader battle

At the same time, the Los Angeles ban follows on the heels of a similar law in San Francisco, whose former mayor and now Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to extend the prohibition across all of California. “He proposes a statewide ban on possession — not just sales — of high-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds,” as George Skelton noted in the Los Angeles Times. In an interview with Skelton, Newsom said that his plan to circumvent the Legislature by putting the ban on the ballot illustrated “why direct democracy was conceived.” But he remained “vague,” Skelton suggested, about how to enforce the proposed rules, which would require owners “to sell them to a licensed dealer, take them out of state or turn them over to law enforcement.”

Although the plaintiffs challenging L.A.’s law have warned of a patchwork quilt of prohibitions too hard for gun owners to discern and obey, that kind of regime has emerged as the likely alternative to Newsom-style regulations covering the whole of California. Gov. Jerry Brown, known as a relative skeptic toward ever-stricter gun control, has effectively become the only officeholder capable of derailing new statewide rules cracking down on guns or ammunition.

In 2013, on the heels of another threatened lawsuit by the NRA, Brown rejected what would have been among the toughest of state laws. “Brown vetoed Senate Bill 374, which would have banned semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and required firearm owners to register even low-capacity rifles as assault weapons,” the Washington Post reported. “In a message to the Legislature, Brown wrote he didn’t ‘believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights,’” the Post added.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Gavin Newsom Announces 2016 Gun Control Ballot Initiative

Gavin newsomThrusting himself to the forefront of America’s campaign-season controversy around access to firearms, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom seized the opportunity to define the 2018 gubernatorial race early, proposing a ballot initiative that would usher in sweeping new gun laws.

Although Newsom’s liberal bona fides were not in question, analysts observed that his calculated risk to wade into the debate made sense in the context of California’s current political climate. “High-profile ballot measure campaigns can help bolster a candidate’s visibility,” as the Los Angeles Times noted. “And because of dismal voter turnout in the last California election, the threshold to qualify measures has been dropped to 365,000 petition signatures, much lower than the previous standard.”

Guns in the crosshairs

Newsom didn’t hesitate to cast himself as a champion of the anti-gun movement, capable of going head to head against the nation’s strongest firearms rights lobbies. “The NRA doesn’t own me, they haven’t bought me — and they never will. They’ve already come after us,” he said in remarks to Capital New York, a Politico publication, “and it’s going to intensify.”

Calling the National Rifle Association “extraordinarily effective at stifling the legislative process,” Newsom vowed “to fight a different fight — that is, direct democracy. We’re going directly to voters. Because the public is with us, including the NRA members themselves.”

Uncertain terrain

To an extent, Newsom has public opinion on his side in the Golden State. “A poll last month by the Public Policy Institute of California found that two-thirds of adults believe California’s gun control laws should be stricter than they are now,” USA Todayreported. “It found that 57 percent of adults said controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting the right of Americans to own guns, while 40 percent said protecting gun ownership is more important.”

But Newsom was cagey on the subject of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has torpedoed California gun legislation in the recent past. His proposed initiative, the Sacramento Bee noted, incorporates “provisions of bills that have stalled at the state Capitol or were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in recent years.” In addition to compelling sellers of bullets to be licensed in the same manner as sellers of guns, the Bee continued, Newsom’s initiative would “establish a process to seize guns from people prohibited from owning them because of their criminal records, mandate that lost or stolen guns be reported to law enforcement, and require the California Department of Justice to notify federal authorities when someone is added to the state database of prohibited firearms owners.”

Californians have already directly or indirectly established one of the strictest sets of firearms regulations in the country, with “a 10-day waiting period for all firearm purchases, an assault weapons ban, and a ban on making and selling magazines that hold more than 10 rounds,” as the San Jose Mercury News recalled. “The state enacted its assault weapons ban in 1989 and expanded it 10 years later,” the paper added, although “those who already owned the banned guns and magazines were allowed to register and keep them.”

Fueling fears

Of all the provisions proposed by Newsom, one stood out: the ban on so-called “large capacity” gun magazines. UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told the Bee that the provision would “hit a lot of ordinary gun owners where it hurts,” potentially turning gun moderates against the initiative. “It plays into the hands of gun-rights proponents who are always warning that the government is going to come take your guns,” he suggested.

In a statement, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter promptly advanced that standpoint. “His ballot initiative proposal does nothing but prohibit access to the most effective methods for self-defense, with no measurable positive effect on stopping crime or improving public safety,” she told Courthouse News. “They can’t repeal the Second Amendment, so they’re trying to chip away our rights until there is nothing left,” she said.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Will New L.A. Ordinance Turn Gun Owners Into Outlaws?

GunIf you’re a gun owner in the city of Los Angeles, you may soon be a criminal.

The City Council has passed an ordinance that bans the possession of any firearms magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. With the mayor’s signature Friday, owners of the prohibited magazines now will have 60 days to turn them over to police, destroy them personally or move them to a location outside the city limits. The ordinance says owners can sell them, but don’t try it — state law prohibits the sale of “large-capacity” magazines and has since Jan. 1, 2000.

Because that state law banned the sale but not the possession of large-capacity magazines, existing property was effectively “grandfathered.” The Los Angeles ordinance makes no such accommodation.

“With a stroke of a pen the Los Angeles City Council has not only turned hundreds of thousands of law-abiding L.A. residents into criminals, they have made property that was legally purchased under state and federal law illegal to possess overnight,” said Paul Nordberg, director of the Calguns Foundation and president of Calguns.net, a highly trafficked online forum for California gun owners. “To the best of my knowledge there is no method or funding for informing the public of their change in status from law-abiding citizen to criminal.”

Nordberg says the people who will be hardest hit are those who participate in the sport of competitive shooting, enthusiasts who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fees and equipment. Magazines with a capacity of 15 rounds are standard in national competitions. “I refuse to call them ‘high capacity,’” he said, “Fifteen rounds is the standard, and words have meaning.”

People who don’t live in Los Angeles are unaffected by the ordinance, unless they drive through L.A. to get to a shooting range or competition in an area outside the city’s boundaries. Then, Nordberg says, they risk “arrest, confiscation of property and possible loss of civil rights for simply doing the same thing they did the day before and have done for years, simply going to the shooting range with the legal property they have owned for over a decade.”

The City Council is working on a second ordinance that would mandate the use of gun locks in the home. That ordinance is modeled on laws in San Francisco and Sunnyvale that have so far been upheld by the federal courts.

But that may not last. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was not happy with the lower courts’ decision to uphold the mandatory gun lock law. “Despite the clarity with which we described the Second Amendment’s core protection for the right of self-defense, lower courts, including the ones here, have failed to protect it,” he wrote.

Still, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to the mandatory gun lock law — yet. So Los Angeles jumped right in to pass a similar ordinance.

California is one of only six states that has no “right to keep and bear arms” in its state constitution. In Nevada, for example, the state constitution says, “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.”

The Arizona constitution says, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.” In Texas, “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”

But in California the state constitution is silent, so gun owners in the Golden State must depend on the federal courts’ interpretation of the Second Amendment to protect their rights from infringement. That means lawsuits will be filed to challenge the two city ordinances, and city taxpayers will incur the costs of defending the ordinances in federal court.

To better protect Second Amendment rights in California, an amendment to the state constitution is needed that secures for Californians the protections that gun owners have in 43 other states. Without that, we’re at the mercy of politicians who like to score political points by criminalizing the actions of people who didn’t do anything to anybody.

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Susan Shelley is a San Fernando Valley author, a former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly. Reach her at Susan[email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.

California concealed gun ruling to be reconsidered

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

A federal appeals court will reconsider last year’s controversial ruling that would have dramatically loosened California’s restrictions on carrying concealed firearms.

In a brief order filed Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to take a second look at the so-called Peruta case with a special 11-judge panel. The order effectively scraps a February 2014 decision that invalidated the San Diego County sheriff’s strict guidelines for concealed-carry gun permits. And for now the order preserves similar limits in the Bay Area and elsewhere enforced by local sheriffs.

A majority of the 9th Circuit’s 29 fulltime judges had to vote in favor of rehearing the case with an 11-judge panel. In a separate order, the court also agreed to reconsider a related case out of Yolo County. The court will hear arguments in the cases the week of June 15.

Click here to read the full article

Prop. 47 Amendment — Common Sense Gun Policy

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) recently introduced Assembly Bill 150, which would amend California’s Proposition 47. Before the passage of Prop. 47, the stealing of any firearm was considered felony grand theft. Now that Prop. 47 has been enacted, the charge has been reduced to a misdemeanor as long as the gun is valued under $950. AB150 would amend that provision in Prop. 47, which would reinstate the felony grand theft charge, regardless of the gun’s value.

If the bill passes both houses, it would be included on the 2016 ballot as a stand-alone provision that voters could either reaffirm or reject.

“Currently, the legislature is pushing for hasher gun control laws for law-abiding citizens and it doesn’t make sense that we would relax the penalty for gun-stealing criminals,” Melendez explains. “Criminals don’t steal guns to go duck hunting; they steal guns to commit crimes.”

The bill Melendez has proposed is a common sense bill that should pass our Legislature. No one wants guns in the hands of criminals. And we all know that any one who steals someone else’s gun is, more than likely, going to use that gun for a criminal act.

Because most handguns are under $950, very few criminals would see the felony grand theft charge.

I give Assemblywoman Melendez credit for this bill. To bring gun legislation to the California Assembly is a bold move, but it’s one that would protect responsible gun owners.

In the words of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Gun owners thank you, Assemblywoman Melendez. Now it’s up to us, the voters, to encourage our representatives to pass this legislation and get it on the 2016 ballot.