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3 California Senate Candidates Out of Step With America on Guns

3 California Senate Candidates Out of Step With America on Guns

A man walks with a stroller as people stand in line outside the Martin B. Retting, Inc. gun store, in Culver City, Calif., on March 15, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

9/14/2023

Updated: 9/18/2023

Commentary
Two dramatic gun policy events blasted across the country on Sept. 8. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham temporarily banned open and concealed carry of guns in Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque. That sparked a swift recoil from her constituents across the political spectrum. She later narrowed the ban to only playgrounds and parks amid multiple legal challenges.
And California’s three major candidates running in 2024 to replace U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein debated in Monterey Park, California, on how to trigger more gun control. They are Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee, all Democrats. In California, Republicans have little chance of even competing in this race.
New Mexico State Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a rally hosted by the Democratic Party of New Mexico at Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 3, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

New Mexico State Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a rally hosted by the Democratic Party of New Mexico at Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, N.M., on Nov. 3, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Let’s start with the governor. After the recent shooting deaths of three children, she imposed the 30-day ban, explaining in a statement, “When New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game—when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn—something is very wrong.”
She took the action 13 months after the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the personal Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” in the case New York Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen.
An outcry shot up immediately, with gun groups filing federal lawsuits. Even Rep. Ted Lieu, a close California ally of Mr. Schiff, responded on X, “I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution. No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) speaks in Washington on Dec. 9, 2019. (Doug Mills/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) speaks in Washington on Dec. 9, 2019. (Doug Mills/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

But the most important response came from Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, who said of the ban, “It’s unconstitutional, so there’s no way we can enforce that order. This ban does nothing to curb gun violence.”
In America, the sheriff is a county’s chief law enforcement officer. Except in Connecticut, all of them are elected. That means he directly reports to the voters, not the governor, mayor, or county board of supervisors. And the voters can replace him at the next election—and in some states, including California, he can be recalled.

Debating Gun Ignorance

The debate was held Sept. 8 at East L.A. College, 2.5 miles from a dance studio where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting last January. The Senate hopefuls shamelessly took advantage of the suffering of the survivors and the families of the victims.
Said Ms. Porter, “We need to pass policies that save lives. It really is that simple. We need to change the laws. And we need that change coming from Washington.”
House Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) speaks at a gathering with local leaders and mental health professionals at the Be Well OC offices in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

House Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) speaks at a gathering with local leaders and mental health professionals at the Be Well OC offices in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

She backed a ban on “assault rifles,” which actually are just mean-looking rifles. But a 1994 study found no appreciable change in gun crime from the ban of 1994 to 2004 sponsored by Ms. Feinstein. The study was called the “Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003,” by Christopher S. Koper, et al., and was a Report to the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ms. Porter also called for more “red flag laws.” These are restraining orders banning guns for certain persons considered a threat to commit future gun violence. But California already has red flag laws. However, such prior restraint roundly was rejected in February by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It covers only Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, but PBS reported “it is the likely forerunner of court rulings in other states” and was the “direct fallout” of the Bruen decision.
Mr. Schiff, like Ms. Porter a lawyer by training, boasted of his sponsorship of the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. In the bill’s words, it would “repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and provide for the discoverability and admissibility of gun trace information in civil proceedings.” The latter was passed in 2005 and shields firearms manufacturers from liability for the use of their products in a crime.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) listens during a hearing in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on June 16, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) listens during a hearing in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on June 16, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Schiff Act is, as the lawyers say, unconstitutional prima facie—on its face. It effectively would ban all gun manufacturing. It would be like holding auto makers liable for the use of their products in crimes, such as getaway cars in bank robberies, or drunk-driving deaths.
Ms. Lee is a social worker, not a lawyer. At the debate she bragged of her co-sponsorship of the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act. According to the website of co-sponsor Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the bill “would repeal current provisions that prohibit the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) from collecting, preserving and disclosing gun records and gun-tracing data to cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public. Aside from enhancing law enforcement’s ability to investigate and solve gun crimes, the bill would provide researchers with access to data to study gun violence and its impact on communities, and develop a more holistic understanding of how guns get transferred from legitimate firearm sellers to criminals.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 8, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 8, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

But gun records, such as those used in federal background checks, are supposed to be temporary, used only to validate the purchaser legally can own a firearm. Anything else is an Orwellian invasion of privacy and a violation of the trust Americans put in the current system. Progressives like Ms. Lee used to object to such violations of privacy, instead of sponsoring them.

Conclusion: California Out of Sync With America on Guns

Bernalillo County voted 61 percent for Joe Biden for president in 2020 and 37 percent for Donald Trump. California voted 63 percent for Mr. Biden and 34 percent for Mr. Trump. That’s pretty close. In the Land of Enchantment, both U.S. senators and all three U.S. House members are Democrats. In the Golden State, both senators also are Democrats, as are 40 of 52 House members, or 77 percent.
New Mexico is about as liberal and Democrat as California. Yet even it rejected gun control. Mr. Schiff, Ms. Porter, and Ms. Lee are out of step with the Constitution and the support of gun rights by the people of the United States of America.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

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John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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