Capitol Alert

Will Gavin Newsom be tougher on guns than Jerry Brown? Democrats are counting on it

Gabby Giffords and lawmakers make impassioned plea for stronger gun control

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson in 2011, joins California lawmakers in announcing plans to pursue tighter gun control at the California state Capitol on Feb. 4, 2019.
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Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson in 2011, joins California lawmakers in announcing plans to pursue tighter gun control at the California state Capitol on Feb. 4, 2019.

California Democrats on Monday outlined a plan to enact new forms of gun control, and they’re hoping Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign firearm restrictions that his predecessor vetoed last year.

Standing alongside former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at a 2011 Tuscon event, Democrats in the Legislature called for more gun restrictions.

So far, they’re proposing Assembly Bill 165, which would provide training to police officers on the use of gun violence restraining orders, and Senate Bill 61, which would limit firearm purchases to one gun per month.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage, the courage to do what’s right, the courage to new ideas,” Giffords said at the news conference. “I’ve seen great courage when lives are on the line. Now is the time to come together, be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone, we must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight. Be bold. Be courageous. The nation is counting on you.”

Democrats also plan to launch a gun violence working group. No Republican has joined it yet.

California in the last two years has adopted increasingly strict gun control measures, including one that prohibits the sale of assault-style rifles, one that bans the sale of bump stocks, one that that prohibits people convicted of domestic violence charges from owning a weapon, and one that prohibits anyone younger than age 21 from buying a rifle.

Brown last year vetoed bills that would have limited gun purchases to one a month and that would have expanded availability of gun violence restraining orders.

“There were a number of gun violence measures at the last session that Governor Brown vetoed,” said Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Van Nuys. “There was a lot of disappointment among members on that. We now have this bold and ambitious new governor. ... Folks are very, very optimistic about what we can do with Governor Newsom.”

Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Newsom, said the governor doesn’t usually weigh in on pending legislation.

Still, he signaled the governor’s support for stronger regulations. On Newsom’s behalf, he thanked lawmakers for “once again taking up the mantle of leadership on this important issue.” Melgar added Newsom is a “big believer in strong gun safety laws.”

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, showed the greatest frustration with the lack of federal laws. Two days before the past Christmas, he said his nephew was shot and killed in Los Angeles.

“As all of America was celebrating the holiday season, we were mourning,” Gipson said. “We were in pain.”

Several more bills will emerge in the coming weeks, according to Gabriel. Many of the Democratic lawmakers in attendance spoke passionately, saying the state would fill a void and lead the nation in preventing mass shootings.

“No matter how much tragedy we experience, President Trump and his allies in Congress are unwilling to take any action to stop mass shootings or gun violence,” Gabriel said. “Thoughts and prayers from Washington won’t keep our kids safe.”

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