California’s gun seizure program hits hurdles

Gun seizureAuthorities in California are struggling to enforce a state law that permits officials to seize firearms from people with previous criminal convictions or mental health issues – running into staffing and budgetary issues that have contributed to a massive backlog of guns marked for confiscation.

The law, which was passed in 2013 following the shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school and set aside $24 million for seizure programs, had a goal of confiscating around 20,000 guns over three years. But six years later, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report, there are still roughly 9,000 of those guns out there, with more being added to the list yearly.

While the state’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, has made gun control a priority of his new administration and has proposed a multi-million-dollar increase to hire more agents, the program reportedly has been hit by retention issues and a lack of experience among new agents. …

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Will Gavin Newsom be tougher on guns than Jerry Brown?

Gun Open CarryCalifornia Democrats on Monday outlined a plan to enact new forms of gun control, and they’re hoping Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign firearm restrictions that his predecessor vetoed last year.

Standing alongside former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at a 2011 Tuscon event, Democrats in the Legislature called for more gun restrictions.

So far, they’re proposing Assembly Bill 165, which would provide training to police officers on the use of gun violence restraining orders, and Senate Bill 61, which would limit firearm purchases to one gun per month.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage, the courage to do what’s right, the courage to new ideas,” Giffords said at the news conference. “I’ve seen great courage when lives are on the line. Now is the time to come together, be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone, we must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight. Be bold. Be courageous. The nation is counting on you.” …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Nancy Pelosi to Introduce Bill Criminalizing Private Gun Sales

Photo courtesy shawncalhoun, flickr

Photo courtesy shawncalhoun, flickr

House Democrats plan to introduce a bill criminalizing private gun sales on Tuesday of next week.

The legislation will be introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and gun control proponent Gabby Giffords.

Tuesday will be the eighth anniversary of the day on which Giffords was shot by Jared Loughner.

The bill seeks to put background checks in place for all gun sales, requiring a daughter to get a background check before her mother can give her a gun or a son to get a background check before a father can give him one. It would also require a lifelong friend to get a background check before he can a gun from his lifelong friend. …

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Riverside County Sheriff Sued Over Concealed Weapon Policies

Gun Open CarrySheriff Stan Sniff’s policy on who gets to carry concealed weapons in Riverside County is unconstitutional because it excludes legal U.S. residents, according to a lawsuit filed Oct. 19 in federal court. Sniff denounced the lawsuit, filed by a county resident and five gun rights groups, as politically motivated and designed to help his opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

In his lawsuit, Arie van Nieuwenhuyzen, a legal U.S. resident who was born in The Netherlands, argues his rights were violated last year when the Sheriff’s Department told him he could not apply for a permit because he is not a U.S. citizen. The Riverside resident and business owner said he bought a handgun for self-defense purposes, a need that extends beyond his home.

“Courts across the country have long held that legal United States residents are entitled to the same constitutional protections as everyone else,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, George M. Lee, said in a statement. “Sheriff Sniff’s discriminatory and unconstitutional policies and practices are denying people access to the right to keep and bear arms and violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s command that all people shall enjoy equal protection of our laws.” The other plaintiffs are the Calguns Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Firearms Policy Foundation, and the Madison Society Foundation. …

Click here to read the full article from the Riverside Press-Telegram

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Banning Gun Sales to People Under 21

Gun seizureMost people under 21 won’t be able to buy guns in California starting next year under a law Gov. Jerry Brown announced signing Friday.

It will prevent people under 21 from buying rifles and other types of guns. State law already bans people under 21 from buying handguns.

The new law exempts law enforcement, members of the military and people with hunting licenses from the restriction.

It was one of dozens of bills Brown took action on.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino pointed to the shooting at a Florida high school earlier this year that killed 17 people as the reason for his bill banning gun sales and transfers to people under 21.

“I was determined to help California respond appropriately to the tragic events our country has recently faced on high school campuses,” Portantino said in a statement. …

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San Francisco Court: 2nd Amendment Grants Right to Carry Guns Openly

Gun Open CarryAmericans have a constitutional right to carry guns openly outside the home, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday on an issue that has divided federal courts and is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case from Hawaii may not last long — it was written by one of the court’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, whose previous decision striking down a California concealed-weapons law was overturned by the court’s liberal majority. But it highlights a Second Amendment issue the high court has sidestepped since 2008, when it ruled for the first time that the Constitution guarantees the right to possess a handgun at home for self-defense.

Supreme Court intervention in the open-carry issue appears likelier with the widening split among lower courts — three federal appeals courts have found no right to carry guns openly in public — and with the possible addition on the court of President Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to succeed the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. As a federal appeals court judge, Kavanaugh has interpreted the Second Amendment broadly, saying in one dissenting opinion that it protects the right to own semiautomatic weapons.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s ruling potentially applies to gun laws in nine Western states covered by the Ninth Circuit, including California. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

California lawmaker proposes Tax guns instead of arming teachers

GunFollowing the February school massacre in Parkland, Fla., California legislators responded as they often do after a mass shooting, with proposals to further tighten the state’s strict gun control laws.

But the killings – and a national protest movement that they inspired – have also raised questions across the country about how best to keep children safe in school.

Assembly Bill 2497, unveiled last month by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, would create a tax on firearm and ammunition sales to fund grants for high schools that want to hire police to provide campus security. The money would also pay for a counselor at every middle school, whose primary responsibility would be to detect and report potential threats of violence. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

California Dems Push Pension Funds to Divest from Guns, Oil Pipeline

PensionsSACRAMENTO – California’s two major pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), control more than $500 billion in total assets, making them two of Wall Street’s most influential investors. They also are government entities, and some California leaders want to use their investment muscle to achieve public-policy outcomes.

This often comes in the form of divestment, by which the funds are encouraged – or even required – to sell their assets in industries that are viewed negatively by the people who push these efforts. These efforts tend to work against the goals of the funds’ professional investment staff, which are charged with getting high investment returns to fund pensions for the systems’ retirees. Both funds have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize their return on taxpayer dollars.

Yet estimates from a consulting firm suggest that CalPERS has lost approximately $8 billion in returns because of previous efforts to divest from coal-related and tobacco industries. That’s become a particularly contentious issue as funding levels have fallen to 68 percent for CalPERS and 64 percent for CalSTRS. That means they have only around two-thirds of the assets needed to make good on all the current and future pension promises made to government retirees.

Despite the troubling numbers, there’s a new push for divestment from some politicians. Following the October massacre in Las Vegas, by which a gunman murdered 59 people at a country music concert, state Treasurer John Chiang has called for the teachers’ fund to sell its assets in weapons firms and sporting-goods companies that sell any guns that are illegal in California.

“Neither taxpayer funds nor the pension contributions of any of the teachers we represent, including the three California teachers slain in Las Vegas should be invested in the purveyors of military-style assault weapons,” said Chiang, a 2018 candidate for governor and member of both pension boards. Chiang also told the Sacramento Bee that he plans on making a similar request to the CalPERS board.

The newspaper also noted that both funds “this year have faced calls to divest from companies that do business with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline,” which would transport oil underground from North Dakota oilfields to Illinois. It has prompted protests from a variety of environmental and Native American activists.

Critics of these proposals say they are largely symbolic and would do little to influence gun sales or the pipelines. Divestment from these relatively small industries wouldn’t have much impact on the massive funds’ financial returns, either.

On Oct. 30, 12 members of California’s Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to CalPERS chief executive officer Marcie Frost urging the pension fund to divest from a fund that has acquired a hotel owned by Donald Trump’s organization. This move is more directly political than many divestment efforts, which tend to focus on the social implications of investing in the pipeline, weapons manufacturers, coal-related industries and tobacco companies.

Divestment advocates sometimes argue that these controversial products may be poor long-term investments. For instance, the Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies Act of 2015 and similar efforts by the state insurance commissioner were based in part on the notion that these coal-related companies may face diminishing values as the world shifts away from carbon-based fuels – a point rebutted by those who note that the current price of the stocks already reflects that risk.

But the Trump-related divestment call, led by U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of Torrance, is designed to target the president. The members of Congress expressed their disappointment that CalPERS “has not divested its interest” in that fund “nor has taken any actions to ensure that its fees are not being transferred to President Trump,” according to their letter. They criticized CalPERS for taking a “wait-and-see” approach toward the matter.

These members of Congress claim that this CalPERS investment could be in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” This would be an unusual interpretation of an arcane clause.

Meanwhile, the pension funds have been expanding other divestment and socially motivated investment efforts. Last December, the CalPERS investment staff “recommended that the board remove its 16-year ban on tobacco investments in light of an increasing demand to improve investment returns and pay benefits,” according to a Reuters report. But instead of removing the ban, the board “voted to remain divested and to expand the ban to externally managed portfolios and affiliated funds.”

And last year CalPERS adopted a five year Environmental, Social and Governance plan that focuses on socially responsible investing. The fund has long used its financial clout to push companies it invests in to promote, for instance, board diversity and other social goals.

Whatever their chances for approval, the latest efforts are not out of the ordinary. But they will rekindle the long-running debate between political and financial goals, and whether the former imperils the latter given both funds’ large unfunded liabilities.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Teachers Pension Fund Weighs Divestment from Gun Retailers

CalSTRS1The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is considering a divestment from any retailer that sells guns or ammunition, in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

California State Treasurer John Chiang believes the divestment should focus on retailers that sell “banned military-style assault weapons.”

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the case for divestment was pressed by Jason Irvine, a Reno, Nevada, resident whose sister, Jennifer Topaz Irvine, was shot and killed in the Vegas attack. He spoke of having to identify his sister’s body after she was shot and said, “I saw with my own eyes and felt with my hands the carnage these weapons inflict.”

Although weapons do not inflict damage — rather, people who misuse weapons do — Irvine’s words found their mark and CalSTRS investment committee chairman Harry Keiley voiced support for looking into divestment. Kieley said, “This is an issue that we alone cannot solve. At the same time, I don’t think we should sit by idly.”

State Treasurer Chiang approached divestment from the angle of minimizing investments in companies “who business efforts are a risk to public health and safety.” He said, “It would be difficult to argue that battlefield assault weapons and aftermarket accessories designed to rain down bullets don’t fall into this category.”

CalSTRS voted to divest of specific firearm and ammunition manufacturers following the December 14, 2012, attack on gun-free Sandy Hook Elementary. On April 3, 2015, Breitbart News reported that some teachers were outraged to find that the pension was still invested in Bushmaster Firearms over two years after the attack. (Bushmaster is the make of gun Adam Lanza stole and used to kill innocents at the school.)

Pension managers told the angry teachers that divestment is a process that could take years in some cases, and it was still ongoing in 2015.

Now Chiang and others want the fund to undertake divestment “in retail companies that sell the weapons and ammunition.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Palm Springs City Council: Guns in Homes Must Be Disabled

GunOn Wednesday night Palm Springs city council voted for a new gun control measure requiring firearms in the home to be disabled with a locking mechanism or otherwise locked in a container.

The new gun control also includes a requirement that residents report a stolen gun within 48 hours and that concealed carry permit holders place guns “in a locked container” if leaving them in their cars.

According to The Desert Sun, 23 Palm Springs residents spoke at the city council meeting, with 15 opposing the new gun controls and eight supporting them. The council then voted 3-2 to pass the measures.

Moms Demand Action’s Dori Smith was one of the eight people who spoke in favor of the gun control. She pointed to the accidental death of a toddler in Louisiana as justification for Palm Springs to adopt the measures on disabling firearms in the home. She said, “We’re simply asking for safety first and saving lives.” Smith did not mention that far more children 10 and under are accidentally killed each year by fire and water than are accidentally killed with a firearm.

In fact, 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures showed that over seven times more children 10 and under were killed in fire-related deaths than accidental gun deaths. And the number of children 10 and under killed in accidental drownings was over 16 times higher than the number killed in accidental gun deaths. Besides being silent on these facts, Smith also failed to explain how requiring a law-abiding citizen to lock up his guns will save that citizen’s life if an intruder storms his residence.

Councilman J.R. Roberts voted to require law-abiding citizens to disable their guns as a way of preventing “youths” from grabbing a gun “in a moment of hopelessness.” Roberts did not explain why homes without “youths” in them should also be required to disable their guns.

Gun owner Andrew Hirsch was among the 15 who spoke against the gun control. He said “the prior city council was known for corruption” and suggested the current city council is soiling its own reputation by “using its powers to restrict the freedoms of law-abiding people.”

The passage of the gun control was preliminary. The city council will bring the measures up for a second and final vote during their next meeting.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart California