Capitol Alert

Kamala Harris on Congress: ‘How is it they don’t act’ on guns?

California State Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks to California Democrats on May 16, 2015.
California State Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks to California Democrats on May 16, 2015. AP

After another spate of deadly school shootings, Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday she would join California Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her recurring fight to renew the ban on assault weapons.

“I am so troubled by this,” Harris, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, told interviewers at Politicon Los Angeles. “I have seen assault weapons kill babies and police officers.”

Harris said the nearly four-dozen school shootings this year, including the latest at Texas Southern University and Northern Arizona University, as well as the 2011 attack on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, should have spurred her colleagues to enact stricter gun laws – if only “out of their own self-interest.”

Harris suggested that members of Congress should have been locked in their chambers following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and shown the autopsy photographs of the slain students, “and then vote your conscience,” she said.

“How is it they don’t act? How is it, after 20 babies, six and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook, are slaughtered, that they don’t act?” Harris asked.

The state’s top law enforcement officer said she supports the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, even describing herself as a good marksman with a handgun. But Harris criticized what she called a lack of reasonable gun restrictions, including background checks, as “ridiculous.”

Her comments came in a wide-ranging conversation with POLITICO reporters Mike Allen and Carla Marinucci at Politicon in Los Angeles. Harris talked about her love of cooking Caribbean-inspired beans and rice, and her garden, saying a recent favorite is Scotch bonnet peppers.

Yet much of the rapid-fire sit-down was reserved for weightier matters of foreign affairs, public safety, Gov. Jerry Brown’s priorities – and politics.

Harris contended that Brown’s high-speed rail project is a sound idea, and she supported his quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Jerry Brown is an anomaly. I am very fond of our governor,” she said, adding he won’t run for president. “I think he would have fun with it if he did.”

After endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, Harris declined to speculate about whether Vice President Joe Biden, a personal friend, would challenge Clinton.

As for Harris’ own Democratic rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, she wouldn’t go into the possible dynamics of a same-party runoff if both advance.

“We’ve seen each other,” Harris said of Sanchez, who is running second in public polls. “I wouldn’t call us friends.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago