Politics, government and public life for Southern California

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.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein turns thumbs down to Bin Laden movie 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Zero Dark Thirty

Still from the film "Zero Dark Thirty" starring Jessica Chastain.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein joins other elected officials in criticizing the film "Zero Dark Thirty." File: Feinstein (D-CA) questions witnesses at a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

The movie "Zero Dark Thirty" has been getting rave reviews and has been named movie of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle. But a trio of U.S. senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, calls it a "dangerous combination" of fact and fiction.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona and fellow Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan in putting their complaints in a letter to Sony Pictures, which released the movie. ("Zero Dark Thirty" is now playing in Los Angeles area theaters.)

The three call the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information" that led to finding Osama bin Laden. They acknowledge the film is fiction, but note that it opens with the words "based on first-hand accounts of actual events."


Maven's Morning Coffee: Herb Wesson's pick for Ethics Commission, Mike Feuer writes about gun violence, LA's mayoral field is wide open

City Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr.

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson's selection for the Ethics Commission is the wife of a City Hall fundraiser.

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.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Thursday, Dec. 20, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson is getting criticism for appointing the wife of a campaign fundraiser to the Ethics Commission, reports the Los Angeles Times. Erin Pak's husband has raised money for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The Los Angeles Times looks at how mayoral candidates are building coalitions to make it to the May runoff. "In a sense, political observers say, it's the up-for-grabs election," according to the newspaper.


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.