Capitol Alert

Proposed California law would ban gun ownership for people on no-fly list

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. He plans to introduce legislation prohibiting people on the no-fly list from possessing guns.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. He plans to introduce legislation prohibiting people on the no-fly list from possessing guns. TNS

A California lawmaker said Friday he plans to introduce legislation barring individuals on the government’s no-fly list from being able to purchase guns and certain chemicals.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, signaled his intentions moments after federal officials confirmed that the woman who joined her husband in killing 14 people in San Bernardino this week had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook before the slayings.

Gatto said his proposal, a variation of which stalled in Congress on Thursday afternoon amid near-unanimous Republican opposition, was not a direct response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino. Authorities have not said Tashfeen Malik, 29, and Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, are part of a terrorist cell, or network, nor is it believed that they were known to federal authorities before the massacre.

“You are not going to stop every single one of these occurrences,” Gatto said in an interview. “But it does make sense to make sure that the people who have been deemed too dangerous to even board a quick flight to Vegas, that they are not allowed to go out there and buy guns and chemicals en masse.”

While Gatto said his research showed that California has among the most comprehensive gun background check requirements in the nation, he said it still only looks for felony convictions, certain misdemeanors and mental-health holds.

“It’s safe to say that if people who are under a mental-health hold cannot buy a weapon, then I think it makes sense that people who have been deemed so dangerous that they can’t board an airplane should be in that same category,” he said.

The pending measure is likely to draw opposition from gun-rights groups as well as civil liberties organizations. It’s been five years since the American Civil Liberties Union and affiliates in California, Oregon and New Mexico sued on behalf of several U.S. citizens and permanent residents on the no-fly list.

The Justice Department in April indicated in court documents that individuals being kept off of commercial flights would now be told why they are banned and given the chance to dispute their status.

Efforts at the federal level have faltered, and the no-fly list along with a measure to close federal background check loopholes, have become talking points on the presidential campaign trail. Democrat Hillary Clinton addressed one of the Democratic-sponsored measures on Friday.

“I got to tell you,” Clinton said to applause. “If you are too dangerous to fly in America, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America – in my opinion.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago