San Bernardino Shooting

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Wants to Toughen California Gun Laws Via Ballot Initiative


Yesterday's San Bernardino gun attack may well affect the politics of a prospective 2016 ballot initiative in California being pushed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco (where regulatory overreach has by now driven out all gun stores) and 2018 gubernatorial hopeful.

bkusler / / CC BY

Details were reported a while back by San Jose Mercury News:

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and a group of activists announced their intention [in October] to put a tough firearms-control measure on California's ballot next year aimed at requiring background checks for ammunition purchases and forcing gun owners to give up large-capacity magazines.

….it carries risks for gun-control supporters like Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018, and also for fellow California Democrats running in swing districts in 2016, who could become vulnerable to a conservative backlash.

…But Newsom said he's ready to rumble. "If you're going to do something, go big," he said in an interview after the news conference….

Newsom and gun-control groups will need signatures from 365,880 registered voters to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot….

What the state calls "assault weapons" and magazines that hold more than ten rounds are already illegal in California, but pre-existing ones had been grandfathered. Newsom's initiative would end that for magazines:

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.

This "go after the ammunition, not the guns" thing is an idea I'm hearing a lot more lately from anti-gun folk who see it as both the only way to achieve their goals (recognizing we've already got at least a gun for every person here) and potentially an end-run around Second Amendment concerns.

California's past gives reason for Newsom and his Party to be nervous about this idea:

Gun control can draw single-issue voters on both sides to the polls. For example, some political analysts believe that Democrat Tom Bradley lost 1982's gubernatorial election to Republican George Deukmejian because of his endorsement of Proposition 15, which would have imposed stricter handgun controls. The measure sparked a huge backlash and increased voter turnout in the state's more conservative areas….

But Newsom's initiative could cause conservatives to turn out disproportionately.

"Single-issue, pro-gun voters don't usually have a great need to turn out for the presidential election—they know which way California is going to go," [gun law writer Adam] Winkler said, but this measure "could stimulate more turnout among people who otherwise might skip this election altogether."

That, Newsom acknowledged, "is a potential risk." But "if you believe in something and think it's the right thing to do, I think you've got an obligation to do it."

The Los Angeles Times checked in with Newsom on this just a couple of weeks ago, making it all still sound iffy:

Everytown [Michael Bloomberg's national anti-gun group] representatives declined to discuss whether the organization intends to become involved in the proposed California initiative. Neither would Newsom or his political advisors talk about how deeply he plans to tap the Bloomberg vein if his measure is cleared to circulate petitions to place it on California's November 2016 ballot.

But Newsom acknowledges he has met with Bloomberg. He used his Twitter account to thank the former mayor for seeing him seven days after announcing his Safety for All campaign last month.

In the interview, he said he was encouraged to pursue a California initiative by both local gun-control advocates, whom he called "lawyers in the trenches," and "national groups … who feel we need a sustained conversation with the public."…

Newsom's proposed gun initiative was written by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco organization that drafts model regulations and defends such measures in court. Tax records provided by the center show it is funded largely by national foundations, including former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' Americans for Responsible Solutions…..

If Newsom's measure qualifies for next year's ballot, the battle with the NRA is likely to be high profile and expensive.

"The whole country will be watching. The whole world will be watching," said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist. "That makes the stakes even higher, and that probably draws even more money."

Yesterday I provided a basic broad-brush overview of existing California gun laws, already about as stringent in the direction of what people call "common sense gun safety" laws as any state in the union. 

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  1. I hope this goes to the ballot. I also hope it loses by 20%. And that everyone votes the same way on Newsom. Isn’t he Lt. Gov because he couldn’t win a Senate seat?

  2. Well alrighty then!

  3. That, Newsom acknowledged, “is a potential risk.” But “if you believe in something and think it’s the right thing to do, I think you’ve got an obligation to do it.”

    But why is he doing it? I think we all know the answer…

  4. #greatwhitehope

  5. “But Newsom said he’s ready to rumble. “If you’re going to do something, go big,” he said in an interview”

    You know who else wanted to go big with his adventuristic policies?

    1. BHO?

  6. So, bear in mind, this guy is the champion of gay people, the guy who would protect their rights, except the right to possess the means of self-defense in case someone doesn’t like their lifestyle and tries to assault or kill them.

    1. So, basically, he wants California to be the next England – where the government will recognize your same-sex marriage but won’t let you defend yourself against people who don’t like you having a same-sex marriage.

  7. and if it doesn’t pass, and he’s elected, he’ll confiscate all guns anyway because, as he has already proven, he doesn’t give a fuck about the law.

  8. What the state calls “assault weapons” and magazines that hold more than ten rounds are already illegal in California

    You would think that the cops would not be in favor of further reducing their firepower, but I guess they’ve gotten used to the old six-shot revolvers they’re all equipped with?

  9. But Newsom’s initiative could cause conservatives to turn out disproportionately.

    “Single-issue, pro-gun voters don’t usually have a great need to turn out for the presidential election — they know which way California is going to go,” [gun law writer Adam] Winkler said, but this measure “could stimulate more turnout among people who otherwise might skip this election altogether.”

    While I’m fairly confident that marijuana legalization will pass, I will be really fucking pissed if this fucks it up.

  10. I wonder if Gavin Newsom helped inspire the Gavin Belson character in Silicon Valley? Gavin is the perfect name for a giant, self important asshole.

  11. California has really nice weather and scenery. Also, my friends live here. And selling my house would be a pain in the ass.

    … I have to remind myself occasionally why I haven’t already fled the state.

  12. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom; could you please tell Gordon Getty to pay the overdue bill at MACDONALD BANK after we earned Getty Oil Company shareholders over $4,000,000,000 …!

    Grant MacDonald & MACDONALD BANK are filing a $22,000,000,000 Getty/Hitler war crimes lawsuit based on J. Paul Getty’s support for Hitler beginning in 1938 and the GETTY OIL COMPANY shipments of oil during the Battle of Britain.


    – v. –


  13. 2003 documents declassified by UK Warfare Ministry reveal that in Oct. 1941 the pro-Nazi Jean Paul Getty employed and lodged Nazis at his Pierre Hotel in New York City; Nazis who were involved in spying on and sabotaging Allied Forces’ war production plants. An employee at the Getty owned Pierre Hotel in New York City wondered why there were so many Germans being hired and staying at The Pierre during World War II. He called the FBI and the FBI charged J.P. Getty with Espionage, FBI File 100.1202, June 26, 1940. It was the job of the FBI in peace and in war to root out internal enemies of the USA. The FBI report refers to Getty’s alliance with G?ring, Goebbels & Hitler. FBI reported in 1942; that the Getty owned Spartan Aircraft Company which was the world’s largest aeronautical school trained Nazis in Florida to become pilots during WWII even after Pearl Harbor was attacked. 43,000 people were killed in the UK while J. Paul Getty was in Berlin still shipping oil to Hitler five months before Pearl Harbor; December 7, 1941. The mother of J.P. Getty was German. As aristocrats with treasures of art were executed — beginning in 1933 — with the outbreak of war; J.P. Getty assiduously added to his vast collection with the Nazis …! The Ardabil carpet and Rembrandt of Marten Looten are at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Gainsborough of Christie purchased in 1938 is at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

  14. Grant MacDonald
    Chairman and CEO

    I earned the Getty Oil Company shareholders 4 Billion Bucks
    On the Reserve acquisition; the way they treat me — it really sucks!
    As the Getty inheritors bask in glee;
    All I asked for was that they look after me.
    Four billion dollars they earned on Reserve
    My fee I surely deserve.
    It turns out J.P. Getty may have been a Nazi;
    His family even goes back to Germany.
    With Hitler, Goring & Goebbels he did stand;
    While trying to undermine the American land!
    For paintings & artifacts he did receive
    With his oil he was able to deceive?
    Hoover & the FBI and Roosevelt they knew
    That J.P. Getty & espionage he drew!
    Many a young lad and Jew did die
    As planes dropped bombs from the sky.
    For years while Getty sat in Berlin
    He may have committed many a sin.
    The ashes and smoke from the chimneys it rose
    While old man Getty sat cozy; he chose.
    With artwork held tightly under his arm
    Still dripping in blood — as the real owner met harm.
    Into the ovens & on meat-hooks, bullets between the eyes
    Listen very carefully you can still hear their cries!
    While the Gettys sit in England; at their estate at Wormsley
    And Gordon sings in San Francisco
    With his 727 in tow.
    The Getty museum sits atop Malibu
    While the corpses of World War 2 scream — J.P. Getty — We know you!

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