Hours after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom began submitting signatures to place on the fall ballot his gun-control measure, former Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly savaged the effort as a “disaster,” and predicted it would cause a surge of GOP voters in November.
Donnelly, now a candidate for Congress, pointed to the 1982 gubernatorial election, arguing that a strong turnout of voters opposed to a gun-control measure that year helped Republican George Deukmejian defeat Democrat Tom Bradley.
The same could happen for down-ticket Republicans this year, he said.
“This should be a warning to the left,” said Donnelly, who wore a National Rifle Association hat as he spoke at the state GOP convention.
“I am not going to call it anti-gun legislation,” he added. “What it is is anti-freedom legislation because, essentially, people have figured out that the government can’t and won’t protect us. So the only way we could do that is protect ourselves. That means we have to have the ability to keep and bear arms.”
Newsom on Friday began turning in about 600,000 signatures for his “Safety for All” initiative requiring background checks for ammunition, among several other provisions. On Thursday, Newsom said it would send a “potent and powerful message to the National Rifle Association.”
Donnelly, who was once cited for bringing a loaded gun to an airport, said in recent months he’s become an ever bigger supporter of gun rights, citing the terror attack in San Bernardino.
“I used to be a shooting enthusiast. I did it for fun,” he said. “Now I train for an episode that I hope, God forbid, never happens. But if it does, I am going to be ready. I am going to be armed.”