Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California representatives split on Obama gun control proposals

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Congressman Adam Schiff of the Burbank/Glendale area is introducing a pair of bills - one to help victims of gun violence hold gun makers and sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns.

Congressional Democrats are lining up to keep gun control on the front burner following the Newtown school shootings. Just hours after President Barack Obama outlined his proposals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced she’ll introduce her assault weapons ban bill next Thursday.

Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank introduced a pair of bills — one to ensure that victims of gun violence have the same rights to hold gun makers and gun sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns. And nearly a dozen of California's congressional Democrats joined other Democrats at a special hearing on the impact of gun violence.

Contra Costa County Congressman Mike Thompson  said no set of laws will end these senseless acts of violence. "But that’s no excuse for sitting around and doing nothin’," he said. Thompson heads a House gun violence task force. He called the challenge complex, but said every idea "and everyone needs to be at that table in order for us to be successful."

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LA councilman proposes ban on possession of high-capacity magazines

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A Los Angeles City Councilman wants to ban the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

One day before President Obama is set to announce new gun control measures, the city of Los Angeles is looking to tighten its own laws by banning the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

California state law prohibits the sale and manufacturing of high-capacity magazines, but the law does not specifically ban possession. A motion from Councilman Paul Krekorian asks the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Police Department to report back on how a ban could be implemented. 

“This gap in the law threatens public safety, because on the streets of Los Angeles, high-capacity magazines pose a daily threat to our citizens and police officers,” Krekorian wrote in his motion.

The Public Safety Committee will consider the motion.

The president is scheduled to speak Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. PT. It was just one month ago that a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, killing 20 children and six adults. 

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Congressional gun owner Mike Thompson tapped for House gun control leadership

Northern California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson has been asked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to coordinate the party's gun control legislation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked California Congressman and longtime gun advocate Mike Thompson to head a Democratic task force to coordinate House legislative efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. 

Thompson, who represents the Northern California wine country, is working the halls of Congress — on both sides of the aisle.

Thompson says he’s been meeting with colleagues, trying to find consensus on what Congress should do to respond to the elementary school shooting. He hints that some of those conversations have been with Republican members, but declined to name any GOP Congressmen he's met with.

"I don’t think we need to do that right now," Thompson said Thursday. "We’re working on this thing and I don’t want to jeopardize it. If I find allies, I want to keep working with them."

House Republicans have been mum on any of the gun control proposals suggested by Democrats —  at least so far. That could change after the National Rifle Association holds a very public press conference Friday.

This year, Thompson was named one of eight "surprisingly pro-gun Democrats” by Guns and Ammo magazine.

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Senator Boxer says gun control could pass Senate, NRA is key

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U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said Wednesday that the National Rifle Association would be a key to passing any meaningful legislation to curb gun violence.

President Obama has asked Vice President Joe Biden to head up a task force on gun violence. Democrats on Capitol Hill are proposing their own answers to the mass shooting at Newtown, Conn.

Republicans have been largely silent on the issue, but at least one California Democrat thinks that can change as soon as Friday.

There's a dark mood on Capitol Hill. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, combined with the death of Hawaii’s Senator, Daniel Inouye, plus the continuing battle over the fiscal cliff has put a pall over everything.

While waiting for the President and Speaker John Boehner to come up with a deal they can vote on, Democratic members of Congress have been busy crafting and promoting legislation to address an issue they think they can affect: The continuing gun violence evidenced at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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Michael Bloomberg's PAC could boost challenger in Ontario Congressional race

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, second from left, is behind Independence USA, a political action committee that will support candidates willing to crack down on illegal weapons.

Seems like everybody’s creating a political action committee this year — from Stephen Colbert to the brother of a Fullerton Congressional candidate.  Now, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting into the Super PAC act. And his support could help a Democratic challenger unseat a Democratic Congressional incumbent in the Inland Empire.

Bloomberg made the announcement on his website. He’ll spend at least $10 million supporting gay marriage ballot propositions, as well as moderate local and Congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle who work in a bipartisan manner.

The New York Times identified one of those candidates as California State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, who's running for Congress. She first heard the news after returning to her office from a funeral. She says there were "tons of e-mails" telling her about an article in the Times.  "And I said, 'About what?'”

Because of California’s “top two” election system, McLeod is running against another Democrat, incumbent Ontario Congressman Joe Baca. He was both shocked and surprised by the news and asked, “Why am I being attacked from the East Coast and Bloomberg?”

The issue is guns. Bloomberg says he’ll support candidates who will crack down on illegal weapons. When Baca first ran for Congress in 1999, the National Rifle Association named him one of its “Defenders of Freedom.” On this year's NRA report card, the group gives Baca a “B+” grade — described as “generally a pro-gun candidate.”

Baca says he believes in protecting the Second Amendment of the Constitution — the right to bear arms. He says it’s important to uphold that right, "But I also believe that we need to focus on firearms that fall into the wrong hands."

Most California Democrats in Congress rate an “F” from the NRA. Baca points out McLeod got a “D,” which the NRA gives to "anti-gun" candidates who usually support restrictive gun control legislation.

But McLeod's position on guns sounds similar to Baca’s. She says she also believes in the Second Amendment: "My husband is a former police officer so we, in fact, do have guns.  They’re put away in a safe. I don’t have a problem with legitimate people having guns as long as they’re registered and they know how to use them."

Baca — who won the primary by nine percentage points — has raised $900,000 for his campaign, with nearly $300,000 in cash to spend in the last few weeks before the election. McLeod has raised less than a third of that amount, with less than $100,000 in cash on hand.

An infusion from Bloomberg could make a difference to McLeod’s campaign, but she notes it would be an independent expenditure. "I have absolutely no control" of that kind of contribution, she says.  "I can’t even see it. I don’t know anything about it, they can’t coordinate with me."

McLeod says this isn’t the first time the promise of campaign PAC money has been rumored.  In the primary, there was talk of money for candidates challenging incumbents. It never materialized for her.

Attempts to get a response from Mayor Bloomberg and his Independence USA PAC were unsuccessful. 

 

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