Capitol Alert

After Orlando massacre, gun debate roils Bera-Jones race for Congress

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a candidate for California's 7th Congressional District, talks with supporters Pam Beane and Emanuel Petrisor during his primary election night party in Carmichael, Calif. Jones is challenging Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in the November election.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a candidate for California's 7th Congressional District, talks with supporters Pam Beane and Emanuel Petrisor during his primary election night party in Carmichael, Calif. Jones is challenging Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in the November election. AP

The gun debate, renewed in the wake of the latest massacre in Orlando, Fla., is sweeping the nation, and touching down in the swing congressional district held by Democratic Rep. Ami Bera.

Amid a 15-hour filibuster over firearms policy led by U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., Bera’s campaign manager challenged the Republican opponent, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, to reverse his earlier opposition to legislation banning those on terror-watch and no-fly lists from purchasing guns.

Jerid Kurtz called Jones’ position “radical” and “dangerous,” in a prepared statement Wednesday

“Taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists is a no-brainer, so Jones should immediately reverse his position and stop playing politics with common-sense gun safety reforms,” Kurtz said.

In January, Jones said, he’d “rather have them shore up intelligence and other mechanisms to help identify and fight terrorism – things that are going to actually keep people safe rather than just some of these surface things to make a few people feel better.”

Jones now says he supports an amendment by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would allow officials to initiate a court hearing that could deny guns to suspected terrorists if certain conditions are met within a three-day time line. Law enforcement officials would have to show that the buyer intended to use the weapon in a terrorist act.

Jones said Cornyn’s legislation, which is supported by the National Rifle Association, “strikes the appropriate balance between security and privacy.”

“Instead of politicizing a tragedy and lobbing attacks via press release, I challenge Congressman Bera to a debate focused on national security and counterterrorism issues,” Jones added.

Bera’s campaign statement did not mention the deadly attack at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and more than 50 injured.

In response to his opponents’ call, Jones, a strong supporter of gun rights, detailed his department’s efforts to protect communities from dangerous threats, including working with regional and federal partners to intervene in and prevent terrorist attacks.

“My issue is not with keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists, but rather my lack of faith that the federal government can develop and maintain a sufficient vetting system,” Jones said in a prepared statement issued late Wednesday.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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