Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Comparing California and federal gun laws after Sandy Hook


Assault weapons like these that were seized in a Moreno Valley raid are illegal in California.

President Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to re-enact an assault weapons ban and prohibit high capacity ammunition magazines. California already has those laws, and more.

The state broadly defines assault weapons — and bans them. It prohibits the sale of ammunition magazines that carry more than ten bullets.  And it’s closed what’s often been called the gun show loophole that allowed people to avoid background checks if they bought a gun from a private owner.

“Whenever you transfer a firearm from one person to another, you have to go through a firearms dealer and a background (check) is done,” said Steve Lindley, chief of the Bureau of Firearms for the California Department of Justice. “A lot of other states do not have that.”

Most states also don’t have California’s 10-day waiting period to buy a gun. Nor do they limit you to one new gun purchase a month. And starting in 2014, California law will require gun owners to register not just their handguns, but their rifles and other “long” guns.


City attorney voices support for federal task force on gun violence

Alex Brandon/AP

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich sent a letter to the vice president Wednesday, voicing his support for the reauthorization of a ban on assault weapons.

President Barack Obama announced a new task Wednesday to address the issue of gun violence, and Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants the federal government to know he supports that work.

In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, the city attorney noted that he and the state attorney general continue to send letters to Angelenos who buy guns, reminding them of their duty to report lost or stolen firearms. A federal grant pays for the letter program; it was in place before last week’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

 “Our goal is to make sure that gun owners know that they must store their guns safely, keep them locked up and away from children, and if the gun is to be sold or if it is stolen, the sale or theft must be reported,” Trutanich wrote in the letter.


Senator Dianne Feinstein not getting Judiciary chair; Leahy isn't moving

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein looked to be in line for head of Judiciary Committee, but instead she'll remain chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee.

In musical chairs, somebody doesn't get to sit down.

It was looking as though California Democrat Dianne Feinstein would move over to chair the Senate Judicary Committee. Monday's death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye meant the top job at the powerful Appropriations Committee would have to be filled.

It was widely expected that Patrick Leahy of Vermont would take that job, leaving open the Judiciary chairmanship. But on Wednesday, "The Hill" confirmed Leahy is passing up the Appropriations job. (Maryland's Barbara Mikulski now seems to be in line.)

Instead, Leahy is staying on as the chair of Judiciary. Which means Feinstein doesn't get that post. But that also means she doesn't have to vacate the top job at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Feinstein issued a statement that said: “I’m very happy where I am.  I will continue to serve as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and support the leadership of Chairman Leahy, and I’m delighted to continue to chair the Intelligence Committee and provide important oversight to the 16 agencies of our intelligence community.”


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

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.


Maven's Morning Coffee: grand jury investigation into Sheriff's Department, county assessor keeps his job, Gov. Brown rejects parole for arsonist

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A grand jury is looking into whether L.A. County sheriff's deputies tried to hide an inmate from federal authorities after they discovered he was an FBI informant.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Wednesday, Dec. 19, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


A federal grand jury is investigating whether sheriff's deputies attempted to hide an inmate from federal authorities after they learned that the man was a FBI informant who was collecting information on corrupt deputies, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The grand jury investigation underscores the rift that developed last year between the Sheriff's Department and federal authorities after deputies discovered the FBI had cultivated an inmate informant as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the department's jails," according to the newspaper.