Cali Gun Owners Ready To Repeal New Weapon Laws
Firearms enthusiasts are taking aim at seven gun control bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed last month. But with little time to gather signatures for a referendum and no monetary help from the National Rifle Association, they could wind up inadvertently helping Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom make the case for his gun measure on the November ballot.
The newly formed group Veto Gunmageddon began circulating petitions Friday at gun stores and firing ranges across the state, seeking enough signatures to put the seven bills, which go into effect next year, to a popular vote — most likely in November 2018.
“This is what the people’s veto is for,” said Barry Bahrami, a San Diego area business owner who is spearheading the petition drive. “Anyone who knows anything about firearms looks at these laws and knows how ridiculous they are.”
Lawmakers passed a dozen gun control bills in June, seven of which Brown signed into law, including legislation requiring background checks for ammunition purchases and a ban on possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Those two provisions form the backbone of Newsom’s gun control measure.
Newsom, who has already entered the 2018 governor’s race, had faced criticism from some Democrats for refusing to withdraw his measure and risk giving a reason for gun-rights conservatives to flock to the polls. But that argument holds less weight now that the new gun laws are being challenged.
“He will be able to say gun restrictions are under attack and that it’s more important than ever to pass my ballot measure,” said Jessica Levinson, a political analyst and election law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Dan Newman, the chief strategist for Proposition 63, Newsom’s gun control measure, was not available for comment on Friday.
The proposition would also require courts to make sure that convicts turn in their guns if mandated and also require gun owners to report a lost or stolen gun.
With the presidential election potentially determining whether there is a pro-gun-rights majority on the Supreme Court, gun rights groups have so far spent little money trying to defeat Newsom’s measure or repeal the state gun laws.
“We’re very pleased to see this level of gun owner engagement,” said Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association, an NRA affiliate. But Michel added that he hoped gun owners realize that the repeal drive is only part of “much larger war” and that the big battle is the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
“If Hillary Clinton wins, it’s going to be much more difficult to strike down flagrant violations of the Second Amendment,” Michel said.
Some political experts said Friday that the grass-roots effort to strike down California’s gun control laws has little chance of getting on the ballot.
Volunteers have until Sept. 29 to collect the nearly 366,000 signatures needed to have voters weigh in on six laws Gov. Brown signed on July 1 and until Oct. 20 to meet the signature threshold for a seventh bill the governor signed weeks later.
Without hiring paid signature gatherers, “it’s not going to happen,” said Jim Ross, an Oakland-based Democratic political consultant. “The only hope they have to collect that many signatures is if some wealthy gun owner wants to take up the issue.”