Capitol Alert

California Assembly pressing on with gun bills

California Assembly members will continue pushing a sweeping package of gun control bills, dismissing concerns that the legislative focus could conflict with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ballot initiative.

Tensions over how to pursue gun control emerged into public view last month when Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, sent Newsom a letter warning the lieutenant governor’s ballot measure restricting ammunition purchases amounted to an “all-or-nothing strategy.” The letter said Newsom’s measure would “provide aid to gun-control opponents by giving cover to reluctant legislators who would rather side-step this important issue in lieu of a ballot initiative.”

Similarly, some Democratic officials and campaign consultants worry that a gun control measure on the ballot will drive Republican turnout by galvanizing conservative voters.

During a press conference touting an Assembly gun control package, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, downplayed those concerns and said the lower house intends to press forward.

“As far as gun issues are concerned, our data shows that voters at the polls in November are more likely to reflect the views of (gun control advocates) then they are ardent gun owners,” Rendon said.

Bills promoted by Assembly Democrats include measures that would limit people to buying one long gun a month, expand the list of people who can get a restraining order barring gun ownership, broaden a ban on assault weapons and regulate components that can be used to build homemade guns.

Legislation introduced by state senators includes bills to regulate ammunition sales, to authorize research into gun violence and to outlaw so-called “bullet buttons” that allow for more rapid firing. Those bills are scheduled to be debated in the Senate on Thursday.

A spokesman for Newsom’s initiative argued that “that we need to fight for progress on every front” given the potency of the pro-gun lobby.

“The initiative contains some elements that have failed to make it through the Legislature, pieces the Legislature isn’t considering, and others that simply can’t be addressed legislatively...” spokesman Dan Newman said in an email. “It’s really beyond comparing apples and oranges –it’s more like apples and rutabagas.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert