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It’s On: California Gun Owners Face A Radicals Radical Anti-Gun Owner Ballot Initiative

August 11, 2015

On October 15, 2015, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom held a carefully orchestrated press conference to trumpet his plan to place several draconian anti-gun-owner measures on the November 2016 California ballot – the same one on which Californians will vote for our next president. He was flanked by anti-gun-owner activists and lawyers for the gun ban lobby.

Although the exact language of the proposal is not yet available, it will eventually be posted on the California Attorney General’s ballot initiative page. Until then, Newsom brags that his proposal would, among other things:

Ban possession of and confiscate hundreds of thousands of lawfully possessed magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds;

Require licensing of all ammunition vendors and drastically limit the places where ammunition could be sold;

Require ammunition buyers to undergo a background check before they could purchase any ammunition;

Turn law-abiding citizens into criminals should they fail to report lost or stolen firearms to police within a limited amount of time after they “should have known” a firearm was missing.

The initiative will need at least 365,880 signatures from California voters to qualify for the 2016 ballot, which will likely cost over a million dollars to obtain. But with the help of billionaire statists like Michael Bloomberg and other anti-gun groups such as the Joyce Foundation and other “progressive” organizations, who continuously throw hundreds of millions of dollars into a carefully orchestrated campaign to demonize gun owners and ban as many types of guns from as many types people and as many places as possible, achieving the signature goal may not be too difficult.

As the former Mayor of San Francisco, Newsom has never met a gun control law he didn’t like, no matter how pointless or counterproductive. As Mayor, Newsom supported a San Francisco ordinance that banned gun shows, required handguns to always be stored in locked containers, and increased the burdens placed on firearm retailers to such a degree that the one gun store in San Francisco eventually went out of business. Newsom was also Mayor when the city passed Proposition H, a voter initiative that would have completely prohibited the possession of handguns by law-abiding citizens if it hadn’t been stopped by an NRA/CRPA lawsuit. So it is not surprising to see him jumping on the gun-ban bandwagon along with other statist politicians climbing on that wagon while it races to the bottom of the civilian disarmament pit.

California has the strictest gun laws in the country, yet violent crime among gangs and drug dealers is still out of control. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars that was specifically earmarked by voters for improving the mental health system has been improperly diverted to other uses, and the state’s criminal records database is full of errors. Rather than fixing those problems, we get politicians proposing more and more extreme gun bans. But there will never be enough gun restrictions for those whose true goal (now that the Supreme Court has told them they can’t ban possession of firearms entirely) is, either directly or indirectly, to ban possession of as many types of guns, from as many types of people, and from as many places as possible.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

A recent field poll for the 2018 California Governor race shows Newsom facing stiff competition from former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other potential candidates, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, environmentalist Tom Steyer, State Treasurer John Chiang, and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Newsom’s anti-gun ballot proposition is calculated to give him an edge over competitors in the 2018 election. His plan, like those of other opportunistic politicians doing the same thing as elections loom, is largely designed to capitalize on the often slanted media attention being given to gun violence and gun control proposals lately, and to get his name in the media to build his statewide name recognition — perhaps the most critical factor in winning elections.

Newsom isn’t the first candidate for governor who has tried to use the ballot process for political advantage. Candidates for higher office in California have used the process before, to varying degrees of success. On the unsuccessful side, former Attorney General John Van de Kamp promoted his 1990 run for governor with three proposals that he said would “drain the swamp” of special-interest money influence. The proposals wound up draining Van de Kamp’s own campaign accounts, and he lost to Dianne Feinstein in the Democratic primary. In 1994 Governor Pete Wilson pushed Proposition 187, which took away benefits from illegal immigrants. The initiative passed, and Wilson won his re-election campaign, but the initiative was later overturned by the courts. And in 2002, before he won the gubernatorial recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger ran a successful initiative to raise money for after-school education.

This also isn’t the first time California voters have seen a radical anti-gun initiative on the ballot. In 1982 California voters weighed in on Proposition 15, which would have enacted America’s first total ban on possessing handguns. Period. Initially, polls indicated that Californians were going to pass America’s first total ban on handgun possession by a 2-1 margin. But polls also showed that voters would follow law enforcement recommendation on the issue. Law enforcement opposition to Prop 15 was pronounced and had a major impact on public opinion. On election night Prop 15 lost by a 2 to 1 margin.

Significantly, California Sheriffs and law enforcement groups are already lining up with NRA and CRPA to oppose Newsom’s folly. Their continued involvement will be critical.

The Masquerade Of red tape begins.

Making it impossible to get ammunition is a big part of the gun ban lobby’s latest playbook. Jeffrey Zalles, president of the Brady Campaign’s Marin County chapter, started the most recent debate about the movement’s direction with an October 6 op-ed in The Washington Post calling for “a focus on ammunition” instead of guns. In it, he called for requiring buyers to obtain ammunition buyer licenses that show photo identification and for stamping every ammunition cartridge with a serial number. “A focus on ammunition wouldn’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Instead, it would guarantee the protection of those rights — while saving many lives,” Mr. Zalles said.

Really? Has he ever bought a box of ammo in his life? Buyer licensing and background checks and cartridge stamping would require extreme and burdensome changes to the ammunition manufacturing and selling process. Ammunition would have to be moved behind the counter and every ammunition sale would require store employees to babysit the process and run a background check on the buyer. The cost of ammunition would skyrocket to prohibitive levels, likely tenfold or more. But so what? This goes right along with the “ban as many types of guns from as many types of people and from as many places as possible” strategy. With this plan, they can make guns even less accessible – especially to folks of limited means.

The idea of restricting ammunition as a way of reducing the number of firearms can probably be traced to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Democratic senator from New York. Moynihan argued, ‘We don’t need to ban guns; we need to ban ammunition, because in 25 years if you can’t buy ammunition, it goes bad.” Moynihan called for outlawing ammunition, which over time would make all guns irrelevant.

And there it is. What won’t fit through the front door, we slide in around back.

If at first you don’t succeed, FAIL, FAIL AGAIN

Newsom’s press conference was held jointly with lawyers from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group of San Francisco lawyers that has repeatedly urged courts to allow all manner of extremist gun bans and restrictions. One of the lawyers who helped found that group has recently come out to condemn their efforts, and is now a civil rights advocate who supports the right to keep and bear arms. His compelling story of survival and awakening to reality will soon be available through CRPA.

At the press conference, Newsom spouted the usual bought-and-paid-for talking points provided by the gun ban lobby’s well-paid public relations professionals:

“California can set the tone for the rest of the nation with these common-sense public safety provisions,” he said. “We will lead the nation. We’ll be the only state in America that has background checks on point-of-sale purchases of ammunition.”

Right. It’s all about “common sense” and “public safety.” The only talking points he forgot to say was that it’s “for the children” and that he “respects” the Second Amendment.

Tellingly, Newsom dodged questions about lessons to be learned from New York’s recent failed ammunition registration law, which would have required ammunition purchaser background checks as part of the 2013 SAFE Act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, enemy to every gun owner, suspended the provision in July because the database was unworkable and the law unmanageable.

“New York tried. California will be the first to do it,” said Newsom, giving California bureaucrats far more credit as capable managers than they deserve. The California Department of Justice Firearms Bureau, under the leadership of Senatorial candidate and present California Attorney General Kamala Harris, has miserably mismanaged California’s criminal records and gun registration databases. That’s according to none other than the California State Auditor, who has twice blasted the Department for incompetence under her lack of leadership. Maybe Newsom doesn’t know that the state bureaucrats are incompetent to run such a massive data management project. Or maybe he doesn’t care.

Newsom also seems unaware that point-of-sale ammunition restrictions were once required under federal law. Congress eliminated the provision under the advice of the then head of ATF, Stephen E. Higgins, who noted that the government had “recognized that the current recordkeeping requirements for ammunition have no substantial law enforcement value.” Perhaps Newsom believes he is more informed on firearm licensing and registration logistics than the former director of the federal agency charged with regulating firearms.

Ammunition regulation efforts by local governments have also proved worthless. Pasadena was the first city in the nation to implement an ammunition registration scheme back in 1995. After realizing it didn’t work, and after the Pasadena Police Department admitted that not a single crime was solved because of the law, the city repealed the law. As Mayor Chris Holden said at the time, “we want to have laws that have meaning and substance. [The ordinance] wasn’t working. We want laws on the books that are effective.” Gun control supporters scrambled to save the law, who were given 30 days to find ways to improve the program, which they failed to do. Azusa also tried and repealed an ammunition registration scheme after only one year when police reported no tangible results from time-consuming administration and enforcement of the ordinance.

For those who closely follow California firearm legislation, Newsom’s proposals look familiar. Newsom’s proposals read like a laundry list of failed legislation that didn’t pass in recent years because these laws are unworkable and ill-advised.

In 2013, a bill mandating background checks at the ammunition point-of-sale was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and was killed in the lower chamber primarily because the costs to both the state and the retailer would make the system unworkable.

In 2012 and 2013, Brown vetoed consecutive bills by then-Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, that would criminalize the failure to report a lost or stolen gun. Supporters argued Senate Bill 299 would provide a tool to identify “straw purchasers” of guns who buy them to illegally resell to people who can’t pass a background check. But siding with opponents such as the NRA and state Sportsman’s Lobby, Brown saw through that. He believed responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm “and irresponsible people do not. I remain skeptical that this bill would change those behaviors,” Brown said in his second veto message.

And in fact, irresponsible people do not. Several cities have adopted theft reporting requirements. They aren’t enforced because if they try, victims of gun theft are afraid of being prosecuted and so refuse to cooperate with police if their stolen gun turns up at a crime scene.

The prohibition on possessing so-called large-capacity (actually, standard capacity) magazines appears modeled after Senate Bill 396, introduced in 2013 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, which died in the Assembly. Proponents claimed that the magazines are designed for only one purpose – to let shooters fire a large number of bullets in a short amount of time. But as Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko stated, this bill would do “nothing to address the causes of gun violence, such as criminal behavior, mental illness, or substance abuse.” The California State Sheriffs Association also opposed the bill, stating that “this measure would have little impact on the ability of criminals or other prohibited persons from obtaining large-capacity magazines,” and that the law “would unintentionally turn many law-abiding citizens into criminals, subject to felony prosecution, for failing to sell or destroy their lawfully obtained property.”

But those rejections aren’t stopping Newsom from capitalizing on a complicit mainstream media to boost his chances of winning the Governor’s office.

ACTUALLY, MAYBE YOU CAN FOOL THEM ALL (WITH THE RIGHT MARKETING)

Newsom made sure to set up the NRA as a boogie man for his campaign to fight against – a classic campaign and media attention-getting strategy. “California will step up and step into this debate in a meaningful way. And I’ll say this to the NRA with all due respect that you can intimidate politicians — we’ve seen them. But you can’t intimidate the public. That’s why we’re bringing this directly to the public.”

Well, first of all, considering all the useless and harassing gun laws that anti-gun politicians in Sacramento have passed in recent years it doesn’t feel like they are very “intimidated.” Regardless, what Newsom really means is “screw that portion of the public that belongs to or supports the NRA or CRPA or the right to keep and bear arms.” His appeal is to the emotions of the segment of the public that doesn’t understand how burdensome and ineffective California’s gun laws already are, and how poorly the government administers them. The prosecutions and ruined lives of the good people who more and more frequently accidentally violate California’s byzantine gun laws are simply collateral damage that helps advance the gun ban agenda.

Abraham Lincoln is (inaccurately) credited with saying that: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Whether that maxim still stands in light of increased voter ignorance and lack of sophistication about increasingly complicated issues is an open question. But it bears considering what the Hollywood hype-masters of manipulating public sentiment think about fooling the public. American film producer Joseph E. Levine (1905-1987) is credited with saying that “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.”
Seems like that’s what Newsom is hoping for.

On October 15, 2015, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom held a carefully orchestrated press conference to trumpet his plan to place several draconian anti-gun-owner measures on the November 2016 California ballot – the same one on which Californians will vote for our next president. He was flanked by anti-gun-owner activists and lawyers for the gun ban lobby.

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