Gun-control recall effort seems to be in limbo

An effort to recall several California Democratic lawmakers from office because of their votes on gun-control bills last year seems to be on the back burner now.

“They’re not off the table, they’re still being considered, but there’s just a lot going on,” said Jennifer Kerns, who founded the nonprofit Free California last October. “No decisions have been made as to whether to move forward. … We’re still in sort of a wait-and-see mode.”

Tim Knight, Tim Donnelly, Jennifer KernsKerns, a political consultant now managing Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s gubernatorial campaign, was involved in last year’s successful recall of two Colorado lawmakers over that state’s gun-control legislation.

But California and Colorado are very different, noted Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, whose group was supporting the Free California effort.

The Legislature’s Democratic supermajority could too easily consolidate any recall elections with this year’s regular elections, thus negating recall supporters’ advantage of lesser total voter turnout, Paredes said. Also, California requires that recall petition signature gatherers be registered to vote within that specific district, making use of paid circulators much harder.

“We’re looking at the realities of politics in California, the realities of the electoral process,” Paredes said. “So we’re in a contemplative status.”

Free California in October had named as potential targets state Sens. Norma Torres, D-Chino, and Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista; Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton; and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

Kerns noted Wednesday that two of those districts – Hueso’s and Gonzalez – would’ve competed for attention with the San Diego mayoral election that just concluded this week; now that the mayoral contest is done, Free California might take a fresh look at unseating the lawmakers.

Free California’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since October. As a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, it’s not required to disclose its contributors.

Though both Kerns and Paredes said the recall idea isn’t completely off the table, it’s hard to see how they can maintain momentum as more time passes since last year’s gun-control votes; petitions began circulating for the Colorado recalls less than a week after that state’s new bills were signed into law. And as this year’s gubernatorial and legislative races demand more attention, time and money, there’ll be less and less left for an effort like this.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    Law abiding middle-aged gun owner (computer programmer) unloads gun into SUV in Jacksonville parking lot after argument over loud music. Kills teen. Lawyer says that he “reacted as any responsible gun owner would.” I know how he felt, as I run into that in fast food parking lots all the time. I’m minding my own business, eating lunch and some clown pulls up next to me, music blaring horrible rap music, literally making my car vibrate. Not sure what I would do if I was packing, which is why I don’t pack. I generally just move my car or think thoughts of keying the other guy’s car when he isn’t looking. I sometimes roll down my window and turn up my own radio, playing MSNBC from my SiriusXM. That works sometimes.

    Law abiding gun owner, retired cop, shoots and kills 43-year-old man in movie theater for texting and apparently throwing popcorn at him after the gun owner protested. Another Florida “self-defense” shooting.

    Oh well, that’ll teach people not to play loud music in parking lots or text in theaters!

  • MichaelB

    Gun control supporter (ignoring street violence in our cities by those who have criminal histories) uses well publicized incidents of a few people using poor judgment to claim all legal gun owners are supposedly “nuts”/collectively guilty of future acts of violence. Really original! Like we’ve never heard or seen this before?

    Oh well. if we (the so called “reasonable” and “sensible” ones) could just ban more guns/ammunition/magazines and run all of the gun shops, gun shows and manufacturers out of business the poor criminals would not be “forced” to pick up guns and injure/kill others with them! “Gun violence” has nothing to do with personal responsibility/behaviors – it’s a “disease” or “public health” issue you know! Legal gun owners/2nd Amendment supporters are really “enablers” and “facilitators” of violence!

    You can’t make this stuff up – it’s exactly how the so called “progressives” see this issue. And unfortunately they run this state so any recall effort isn’t going to make a difference.

  • JohnW

    “well-publicized incidents of a few people using poor judgement.”

    The reality of human nature is that nearly all of us exercise poor judgement from time to time. And some of us even “law abiding citizens” are jerks much of the time. But most of us don’t have a gun handy when those moments of “poor judgement” happen.

    Statistically, the more “law abiding citizens” you have walking around with guns, the more you will have guns being the new “road rage.” Gun advocates like to say an “armed society is a polite society.” In these two cases, it seems the victims didn’t get the memo.

  • MichaelB

    The “reality” is that predictions of so called “wild west shootouts” by gun control supporters never materialized after states started issuing permits to citizens to carry guns for self defense.

    Can we count you in with the “progressive” camp that says your life is not worth defending when threatened? Unless, of course, if you are someone like Sean Penn who I understand does have a permit to carry in a gun in California.

    What “memo” did you not get? Which states have had to revoke their permitting process as a result of abuse? What percentage of permit holders (compared to the total amounts issued) have had them revoked because of misuse/violations? Why do only the left wing stronghold states refuse to issue permits to the law abiding (unless they have political connections, are celebrities or are financially well off)?

    Many people already do have “guns handy” in their homes and businesses. And do absolutely nothing wrong with them. As usual, the gun control movement (paying lip service to problems on the streets of Chicago) would rather blame and harass them with endless “what if” scenarios of things that might go wrong and wanting more so called “common sense safety” legislation. The criminals are absolutely terrified as a result! Not.

  • Elwood

    Remember, when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away!

  • JohnW

    Given his celebrity and outspoken ways, I imagine that Sean Penn has had more than his share of threats and could make a case for a CW permit. But if he ever actually gets into a “situation,” I doubt it will help him much.