Tragedy could boost Newsom’s gun-control push

Gavin newsomThe slaughter of 14 people at a San Bernardino conference center Wednesday morning by two heavily armed Islamic extremists could provide a boost to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s planned 2016 ballot initiative imposing stricter gun-control laws on California.

Wednesday afternoon, before much was known about the attacks or the motives of the shooters, Newsom had this to say to the Los Angeles Times: “What more evidence do you need that we need to step it up as it relates to gun safety in this state? It is just unacceptable what is going on in this country. And California needs to lead the way. … Today’s tragedy just reinforces the imperative to not wait around for Congress to do their job, but for this state to do its job. And giving the voters the opportunity to do that directly is something that I think is important because the NRA, even in a Democratic state, has intimidated politicians in Sacramento.”

Newsom and fellow gun-control advocates need 365,880 valid signatures to gain a spot on the November ballot. The San Jose Mercury-News has details on his proposal:

California already has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, including 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.


The state enacted its assault weapons ban in 1989 and expanded it 10 years later. But those who already owned the banned guns and magazines were allowed to register and keep them.


Newsom’s measure would require owners to turn the outlawed magazines into police for destruction, sell them to a licensed firearms dealer or move them out of the state — just as San Francisco supervisors and Sunnyvale voters chose to require in 2013. New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and the District of Columbia also have such laws. …


Newsom’s measure also would require licensing of ammunition sellers and instantaneous point-of-sale background checks for all ammunition purchases to weed out those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with restraining orders against them or those declared dangerously mentally ill.


No other state requires background checks for ammunition purchases.


The measure would also require firearm owners to notify law enforcement if their firearm has been lost or stolen. Eleven states and the city of Sacramento already require this, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills to do just that in 2012 and 2013.

Measure could be launching point of 2018 gubernatorial bid

gunsThe November 2016 ballot is likely to be packed with measures. The signature threshold is much lower than normal because it is dictated by turnout in the last general election, and the November 2014 vote saw anemic turnout. Newsom’s measure will be fighting for attention with marijuana legalization proposals and other high-profile issues. He is expected to use his push for the measure as essentially the starting point of his campaign to be elected governor in 2018.

The gun-control measure is likely to attract millions of dollars in critical ads from national groups that back firearms rights. One expert told the Mercury-News that some of the specifics in Newsom’s plan could galvanize opposition:

“The large-capacity magazine ban is going to stimulate a lot of opposition; that’s going to hit a lot of ordinary gun owners where it hurts” — including some who might be open-minded to other kinds of gun control, said Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor and author of 2011’s “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”


“It plays into the hands of gun-rights proponents who are always warning that the government is going to come take your guns,” Winkler said.

For a good overview of California’s current gun-control laws, go here.

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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