Two of the most powerful politicians in California are advancing the same basic gun control agenda – yet they are at loggerheads in a political duel that could preview an ugly race to replace the state’s popular Democratic governor, Jerry Brown.
The spat among ambitious Democrats took a serious turn this week, as Senate leader Kevin de Leon aggressively moved to push a package of gun control bills through the legislature that, if passed, would largely render irrelevant a firearms referendum by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom aimed at the November ballot.
Gun rights supporters say both men are being opportunistic.
“Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is no stranger to trying to hijack high-profile issues in order to get his name out there,” said Craig Deluz, a lobbyist for the Calgun Foundation. “And Senate Pro Tem de Leon doesn’t want the Lieutenant Governor to steal his thunder.”
“They both want tougher gun laws in California and they both want credit for it,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who now heads the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.
Both efforts would prohibit possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require greater scrutiny of ammunition purchasers and seek to better keep guns out of the hands of violent felons. The legislative package, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday and will go before the full body on Thursday, also seeks to eliminate a loophole in an existing law prohibiting weapons with detachable ammunition magazines.
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