Assembly catfight over guns

May 22, 2012 - By admin

May 22, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Retribution in politics isn’t unusual. Every year we witness members of the Legislature receiving punishment from party leadership, often followed by banishment to a tiny office and committee assignments taken away.

That’s the prerogative of party leadership.

However, Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Chino, has taken aim at a fellow member of the Assembly in a very public way. Torres authored AB 2182, which would require a police officer to arrest anyone for carrying a concealed handgun into an airport without a concealed weapons permit.

In the Assembly Monday, Torres said that last year there were 64 such gun incidents at airports, but only 34 of the offenders were taken to the police station; the other 30 were cited and released.

“African Americans and professional athletes are treated differently than business men and members of the Assembly,” Torres said.

As soon as Torres said this, the Assembly chambers ignited with chatter, laughs and stares at one member of the Assembly.

In Torres’ sights is Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, from Hesperia. In January, Donnelly was stopped by the TSA in the Ontario airport for having a loaded pistol in his carry-on luggage. Donnelly told authorities that he forgot that the weapon was in his briefcase. He was charged by police with a misdemeanor.

Torres tried to claim on Monday that this bill was not aimed at Donnelly, and that actually she and her staff have been working on this since last fall. However, the bill was introduced in February, on the last day to introduce legislation, and after Donnelly had his dust-up.

Legislative target

When the bill was first introduced, Torres had language written in that even tried to ban the perpetrator from using the same airport in which a gun incident takes place. But that language was amended out of the bill in April. If there is any doubt of Torres’ intentions, the now-removed amended language should make it clear: “The bill would ban a person who is subsequently found guilty from entering the airport, and would make it a misdemeanor to enter the airport where the offense occurred.”

“This bill is an insult to this institution, and to the citizens of California,” Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, retorted. “It’s an insult to everybody.”

AB 2182 “is a direct attack on a member of this Legislature,” Jones said. “This is just an opportunity to bloviate, and get more recognition for ourselves,” Jones added. “None of us are perfect.”

Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, challenged Torres and asked her to specify the intent of her bill, asking, “Crime or negligence?”

Torres seemed flustered and instead read from the notes she had with her, explaining how the law currently defines a lawful, responsible gun owner. “This bill is about irresponsible gun owners,” Torres said.

Jones asked for Torres to answer the question, and Wagner accused her of filibustering.  “This bill is an embarrassment,” Wagner said.

And then, Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, called out a point of order, asking Wagner to allow Torres to answer the question.

This was a moment of hilarity as it was evident to everyone in the room except Calderon that Torres did not want to answer the question, but now was faced with coming up with an answer.

Torres read again from her notes, but Wagner wasn’t satisfied. “We all know what this is about,” he said.

Torres told the Assembly that the comments about her bill were insulting, and at this time claimed that she had been working on it since the fall.

The Donnelly incident

Donnelly was charged with carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport, misdemeanors, and punishable by up to 18 months in jail and $2,000 in fines.

Donnelly later said that the incident was an “unfortunate mistake,” and that he had forgotten that he had the gun in his briefcase after placing it there while working in his home garage.

Donnelly was sentenced to three years on probation and a $2,215 fine.

Bill analysis

The bill analysis done by the Public Safety Committee pointed out that, with all misdemeanors, offenders are cited and released unless already guilty of other charges, or “a likelihood the offense would continue, or safety of persona or property is endangered.”

But the other question raised by the committee staff was if there was a reason to treat this misdemeanor differently than most misdemeanors: “Is there a demonstrable need to delete law enforcement’s discretion to cite and release in the case of carrying a concealed weapon within an airport?”

“This is all a big waste of time,” said Jones after the hearing. “It’s an abuse of power, and a waste of time by the Legislative counsel, Assembly staff, and the time of three different committees.”

“What an embarrassment by the Legislature,” Jones said, “like a junior high cat fight.”

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Comments(29)
  1. Meanwhile, state finances sink ever deeper into ruin. Thanks, Ms. Torres for taking your job so seriously!

  2. Beelzebub says:

    Everyone who carries a gun into an airport and tries to board an aircraft should be arrested and transported to jail. Donnelly was cut loose only because of his position in government. I have read so many articles and heard reports of people getting caught at the security checkpoint with guns. Donnelly was the only one I heard about who was cited at the scene and released. Attempting to carry a firearm on board a commercial aircraft is a VERY serious offense. After the fact anyone could say “Oh, I didn’t mean to do it. It was a mistake.” So why does everyone except for Tim Donnelly go to jail for it???

    This is the problem in America. If you have political horsepower you get special favors. That is no different than in the old Soviet Union. Is that the society you want to live in??? Not me. We have something called “Equality Under the Law”. Either that has meaning or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t – fine – just tell us it doesn’t matter anymore and stop lying to our little school children in civics class!

  3. Rogue Elephant says:

    And who is Norma Torres, anyway? If you guessed career government worker and union hack, you win the booby prize!

    Her qualifications for office: Torres was a 911 dispatcher and AFSCME (government worker union) shop steward. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norma_Torres

    Her education: No higher education reported, anywhere. http://votesmart.org/candidate/biography/71284/norma-torres

    This is the best the state can do? We’re doomed.

  4. Beelzebub says:

    Rogue,

    What is wrong with treating everyone who tries to board a US commercial jet in California with an unauthorized firearm the same. Do you think Tim Donnelly should be treated any differently than JoeSixPack? Many many many people without criminal histories have been transported to jail after inadvertently trying to board an aircraft with a gun. Why should Donnelly get treated differently? Because he’s one of the blessed overlords???

    Torres is easy to attack. I don’t like her either. But let’s talk about the actual bill and the INEQUALITY that currently exists w/regard to ‘equal protection under the law’.

  5. Rogue Elephant says:

    Equal protection isn’t the issue here. Political payback is – plain and simple.

    Sorry, I don’t see a big equal protection evil here, There were 64 incidents with arrests made 34 times. So, we need a law requiring arrests every time? Really? 64 incidents, and you feel like this is some great social evil requiring legislation?

    How far do you want to take that principle? Shouldn’t we apply it to all criminal offenses? Or let’s break it down. Felonies? Misdemeanors? Infractions?

    Did you know that the police can arrest you for a driving infraction? Shouldn’t they arrest 100 percent of the time or not at all? Why not?

    These incidents far outnumber the 64 at issue here. Are arrests made 100 percent of the time? Certainly not. Why not?

    That’s arrests. What about prosecutions? Are they made 100 percent of the time? No? Why not? What about sentencing? Is sentencing equal? No. Why not?

    If the gun issue is such a social evil that it requires more laws and punishment, then why don’t these other social evils cry out for the same treatment?

    How about we get a little perspective, here.

  6. Beelzebub says:

    “Sorry, I don’t see a big equal protection evil here, There were 64 incidents with arrests made 34 times. So, we need a law requiring arrests every time? Really? 64 incidents, and you feel like this is some great social evil requiring legislation?”

    And how do they make a decision about who goes to jail and who gets cited? I read about a kid who had a pair of nun-chuks in his carry on baggage – no criminal history – no gang affiliation – and he was jailed. I would love to read the bio’s on all 64 incidents. I bet a good number of those 30 who weren’t arrested had a connection in the system – like Donnelly did. And I bet a good number of the 34 who were arrested had no criminal history. Just like with the confidential license plate program – all the connected violators get a pass (wink and a nod).

    “How far do you want to take that principle? Shouldn’t we apply it to all criminal offenses? Or let’s break it down. Felonies? Misdemeanors? Infractions?”

    A cop is not a judge and not a lawyer. It is not up to the cop to make a judgment call on a VERY serious incident of trying to board a commercial jet with a loaded firearm. His job is to book the subject and jail him. The system is set up so the cop can cut loose connected individuals and jail the unconnected ones. That is not “equality under the law”. That’s the crap that happens in Mexico and Honduras.

    “Did you know that the police can arrest you for a driving infraction? Shouldn’t they arrest 100 percent of the time or not at all? Why not?”

    A driving infraction is not the same as attempting to board a commercial aircraft with a loaded firearm. If you can’t see the difference my discussion with you is futile.

    “If the gun issue is such a social evil that it requires more laws and punishment, then why don’t these other social evils cry out for the same treatment?”

    What “social evils”? Be specific.

    “How about we get a little perspective, here”

    Yes, I agree that you need some perspective here. You are promoting two different books of laws. One for the connected and one for everyone else. That’s one reason this nation is being flushed – because of attitudes like yours.

  7. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Did you know that the police can arrest you for a driving infraction?

    Rogue-I have no idea who told you that lie, but it is 100% fails, you CANNOT be arrested for a traffic-or any other-infraction offense. Nor can you be sentenced for jail for a violation.

    Now, you can be arrested and booked for FAILING TO SIGN a “promise to appear”, that is completely different. The arrest there is for the failure to sign the promise to appear, not the infraction.

  8. Rogue Elephant says:

    Whoa! Careful there, tiger! Are you accusing Donnelly of “attempting to board a commercial aircraft with a loaded firearm”?

    Donnelly didn’t attempt to board an aircraft with a loaded weapon. That would be a federal felony. (49 U.S.C. 46505(b)(1)) Are you accusing Donnelly of attempting a felony?

    Donnelly was convicted of the misdemeanor offenses of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport.

    Nor has it been shown that Donnelly “knowingly” possessed a firearm within the sterile area of an airport (the offense at issue in AB 2182). (See, Cal. Penal § 171.5) To convict Donnelly of this offense, the state must prove that he knowingly committed the act voluntarily and not through surprise or confusion or bona fide mistake. Donnelly didn’t know the gun was in his bag, and thus lacked the requisite mens rea.

    Nevertheless, you seem to have convicted Donnelly not only of this offense, but also of a federal felony?

    How reckless.

  9. Rogue Elephant says:

    Rex,
    A police officer may arrest a person when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a public offense in the officer’s presence. (People v. Dickey). An officer has the power to arrest for even minor offenses, even those punishable only by a fine. (People v. McKay) (Defendant arrested for failing to present his drivers license).

  10. Rogue Elephant says:

    Correction: Persons subject to citation for infraction must be released on a citation, except in limited circumstances, such as when the person to be cited does not have a driver’s license. (See, California Penal Code section 853.5)

  11. Beelzebub says:

    “Whoa! Careful there, tiger! Are you accusing Donnelly of “attempting to board a commercial aircraft with a loaded firearm”?”

    You don’t know what the f you’re talking about. Go read the story, tiger. Tim Donnelly was arrested at Ontario Airport when TSA security found a loaded .45 caliber firearm in his briefcase as he intended to board a commercial aircraft. So again you missed the boat.

    “Nor has it been shown that Donnelly “knowingly” possessed a firearm within the sterile area of an airport (the offense at issue in AB 2182)”

    You know what? As far as I’m concerned it really didn’t matter whether he knew it or not. For an elected assemblyman to be so irresponsible and deft to carry a firearm in his briefcase and attempt to board an aircraft is inexcusable. What other stupid bonehead ‘mistakes’ does he make as he represent thousands of constituents in the State of California?

    “Nevertheless, you seem to have convicted Donnelly not only of this offense, but also of a federal felony?”

    I have no control over how the State charges Donnelly. All I know is that he tried to board a commercial aircraft with a loaded firearm. And those are the facts, jack. Like it or lump it!!

  12. Rogue Elephant says:

    Wrong. Donnelly was arrested at the security checkpoint – not trying to board the airplane. Those are the facts, B.

  13. Beelzebub says:

    “Wrong. Donnelly was arrested at the security checkpoint – not trying to board the airplane. Those are the facts, B.”

    Why do I have to do your work for you? Can’t you figure this stuff out on your own? Did you and Teddy graduate from the same college by chance?

    “Screeners at the Southern California airport detected the firearm as Donnelly prepared to board a Southwest Airlines flight to the capital for the Assembly’s first 2012 session”

    http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/05/4164005/california-assemblyman-tim-donnelly.html

  14. Beelzebub says:

    Well, this will help catch boneheads like Donnelly who attempt to carry loaded firearms onto commercial aircraft.

    The senate appropriations committee wants to double the price ($2.50 to $5) that air passengers pay extra one-way to fund TSA operations! :D So now you have to pay more to get your packages groped!!! :D Bend over and smile!!!

    Why don’t they just use Donnelly’s fine to help fund TSA??? Oh wait….that will go to pay the pensions for the cops and courthouse staff!!! I forgot!!! HAH! :D

    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/appropriations/228835-senate-moves-forward-with-increased-airline-passenger-fees#.T7vGjswN384.twitter

  15. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Rex,
    A police officer may arrest a person when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a public offense in the officer’s presence.

    Not on an infraction offense, once again, don’t know where you are pulling these whoppers out of but you are flat out wrong. You need to get educated on criminal law and procedure.

  16. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    BTW Rogue, go read Penal Code section 16. The cases you posted are for failure to presnt identification, NOT an arrest for an infraction, two different ball games.

  17. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Rogue, this is for you buddy-read it and learn;

    Penal Code 19.6
    “An infraction is not punishable by imprisonment. A person
    charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to a trial by jury.
    A person charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to have the
    public defender or other counsel appointed at public expense to
    represent him or her unless he or she is arrested and not released on
    his or her written promise to appear, his or her own recognizance,
    or a deposit of bail.”

  18. Beelzebub says:

    “Not on an infraction offense, once again, don’t know where you are pulling these whoppers out of but you are flat out wrong. You need to get educated on criminal law and procedure”

    He was wrong about Donnelly too, rex. I corrected him with a proof source and he flew away. Don’t expect him to concede that he was wrong. People rarely do that on these boards. Humans hate it when proven wrong. And they always blame the messenger. ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Rogue is getting mixed up with not signing a “promise to appear” from an infraction offense. Not signing the proimse to appear IS cause to be arrested, but that is different from an arrest for an infraction itself, which you cannot do.

  20. Ted Steele, Law King says:

    Rogue is correct sad trolls. Sorry—- read more carefully—- “release” is the key, not arrest. He can arrest for infractions committed in his presence but then after booking he is entitled to bail or release as a matter of law.

    And get back on point boys— stop hijacking threads—– or I’ll cite ya!

  21. Rogue Elephant says:

    Rex,
    Firstly, when I said a police officer can arrest someone for an infraction, i was actually referring to the Constitutional standard in City of Lago Vista – not the particulars of California law.

    However, because I was unclear, I took the correction regarding California law. That being said, I think you misread Penal Code 19.6. This section indicates that a person can be arrested for an infraction – but is not entitled to a public defender.

    I was going to point you to the People v. McKay decision (cited above), but have decided that would be futile. That decision discusses that police officers may use discretion in making arrests.

    Discretion (in arrests, charging, and sentencing) was one of my main points. See my conclusion below.

  22. Rogue Elephant says:

    B,
    Firstly, Donnelly was not arrested attempting to board an aircraft or otherwise. He was cited and released.

    That is part of what AB 2182 is about. Police exercised discretion. I argued that, put in perspective, discretion in the Donnelly case is small (64 cases in one year) compared to discretion in other cases (thousands or tens of thousands).

    The Donnelly case poses no existential threat to the republic. The hysteria over the case is simply astonishing.

  23. Beelzebub says:

    Boy Rogue. You are really a dishonest poster, aren’t you?

    This is what you posted on 5-22 @ 7:23pm:

    “Wrong. Donnelly was arrested at the security checkpoint – not trying to board the airplane”

    So YOU actually said he was ARRESTED. And I shot down your bogus post with this quote taken from the linked SacBee article linked above:

    “Screeners at the Southern California airport detected the firearm as Donnelly prepared to board a Southwest Airlines flight to the capital for the Assembly’s first 2012 session”

    Now your most recent post contradicts what you said on 5-22 @ 7:23pm:

    “Firstly, Donnelly was not arrested attempting to board an aircraft or otherwise. He was cited and released”

    And Donnelly was IN FACT trying to board a SouthWest Airlines flight when he was found to have a loaded .45 in his briefcase, which is contrary to what you CLAIMED in your previous posts. And yet you won’t admit that you were WRONG! heh.

    It is fun to debate dishonest posters because they are so easy to slap down. And now that I’ve PROVEN my point – I am done with you. I now know what I’m dealing with whenever you post a comment.

    Thanks for the insight.

  24. Beelzebub says:

    Looks like Rogue won’t admit that he was wrong with regard to arrest law for minor infraction either, rex. Even when you point out the penal code itself.

    See him for what he is. :)

  25. Ed Maguire says:

    Isn’t there a law that probhibits carrying a concealed weapon without a permint. What possible use could this law be?

  26. KeepDaPeace says:

    The real point of this story is that the legislature is out of control enacting laws that are already covered by other statutes. Rate this up there with Ted Lieu’s tanning bed law and that are designed to inhibit business growth rather than regulate for the public good. Torres ,like most Democrats and some Republicans, rates an F

  27. Beelzebub says:

    “Isn’t there a law that probhibits carrying a concealed weapon without a permint. What possible use could this law be?”

    You are correct, Ed. I suspect Donnelly didn’t get charged for carrying w/o a permit because he is one of the overlords. Trust me, if you were driving your car and a cop found a loaded weapon inside you would go to jail, your car would get towed and you would get charged for carrying w/o a permit even if you claimed that you had no knowledge the weapon was there. Don’t expect Rouge to come back and answer your question. We already chased him off! :D

  28. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Rex,
    Firstly, when I said a police officer can arrest someone for an infraction, i was actually referring to the Constitutional standard in City of Lago Vista – not the particulars of California law.

    Rogue- do me a favor, READ the Lago Vista case-just READ it before spouting off, it is NOT an infraction offense, it was a MISDEMEANOR offense that did not carry a jail term, just a $50 fine, you CAN arrest for a misdemenaor, not an infraction.

    OK, I can’t teach you this over the internet, go take some Criminal Justice classes at your local JC, they can explain to you the difference between an infraction and misdemenaor.

  29. Rex The Wonder Dog! says:

    Rogue-I am referring to an “arrest” as taking the person into custody and then to the detention facility and booking them.

    Technically when you WRITE the ticket that is an “arrest” because you’re not free to leave, but that is not a real arrest-a real arrest is getting the bracelets and being booked at the county jail. They cannot book you in CA on an infraction offense.

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