Dan Walters

New California laws threaten rights of the politically incorrect

State Senate President Pro tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, left, smiles as his gun control bill SB 1235 is approved by the Senate. At right, is Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, who joined other Republicans in opposing the measure.
State Senate President Pro tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, left, smiles as his gun control bill SB 1235 is approved by the Senate. At right, is Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, who joined other Republicans in opposing the measure. The Associated Press

Those who, by word and deed, are out of sync with California’s deeply blue political ethos risk social ostracism.

Increasingly, however, the state’s dominant politicians want to subject dissenters to discrimination and legal harassment – even infringement of constitutional rights.

Smoke a cigarette, own a gun, cut a tree, pan for gold, question the “inconvenient truth” of human-caused global warming, utter an impolite joke or even drive a gasoline-powered car and you may run afoul of an ever-tightening web of laws and rules that punish your heresy – promulgated by political figures who talk constantly about their respect for civil rights.

What happened Thursday in the state Senate typifies the newfangled intolerance. It passed, largely along party lines, 11 new gun control bills whose sponsors, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, promised they would reduce “gun violence.”

“We cannot stand by while our communities suffer from this horrific violence,” de León said.

But proponents offered not a scintilla of objective evidence that new bureaucratic regulations and complex definitions will do anything other than hassle the law-abiding and infringe on a constitutional right that the courts have repeatedly upheld.

The bills were rushed through the Senate for reasons that have nothing to do with gun violence, but rather three-sided political jousting.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing his own gun control ballot measure, and he and de León have been feuding, with the latter openly urging the former to drop his measure.

One factor is fear among some Democrats that having Newsom’s gun control measure on the November ballot would encourage turnout among gun-owning voters that would hurt the party’s other causes and candidates, as it did in the 1982 election for governor.

Newsom, who wants to expand the rights of marijuana smokers while curbing those of gun owners as he seeks the governorship, is not likely to accede.

Meanwhile, the new speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, is pushing his own array of gun control bills that don’t conflict with Newsom’s measure, winning Newsom’s praise.

As Newsom, de León and Rendon compete over who can most reduce gun rights, other Democratic politicians want to make heretic speech illegal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would give the attorney general new powers to go after corporations that don’t endorse climate change orthodoxy, in response to allegations that oil companies suppressed research.

It would be a hunting license for a politically ambitious attorney general to harass political enemies. And if you think that’s far-fetched, consider that a federal judge recently slapped down Attorney General Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senate candidate, for demanding that a conservative foundation turn over a list of its supporters, supposedly to curb fraud. Judge Manuel Real said she could not be trusted to protect them from intimidation.

Civil rights are civil rights, and choosing to honor some and deny others is unworthy of a state that prides itself on valuing personal liberty.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed California's most significant new tobacco legislation in decades.

Despite some tension between the Legislature and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Democrats said during a May 18, 2016 press conference that they're moving ahead with gun control bills. Newsom has a pending ballot measure on gun control.

Tim Donnelly, at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame in 2016, says Californians ought to be able to defend themselves in gun-free zones.

Much of the California Assembly's debate over raising the smoking age to 21 focused on how it compared with the drinking age.

Gov. Jerry Brown, issuing an ominous appeal on climate change, spoke at a climate change conference in Vatican City on July 21, 2015, saying the world may already have “gone over the edge” on global warming and that humanity must reverse course o