Skinner & Bonta urge passage of gun control bills

Two Assembly members and a flock of East Bay elected officials and community leaders gathered on an Oakland church’s steps Monday morning to urge the Legislature and governor to pass and enact gun-control measures.

Bonta-Skinner news conference - photo by Josh Richman“The Second Amendment’s purpose was not to have every citizen own assault weapons, it was not to protect gun violence in our communities,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, at the news conference outside Beebe Memorial Cathedral.

Skinner and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, urged the state Senate to pass two of Skinner’s bills: AB 48, which would ban conversion kits that let people create their own high-capacity ammunition magazines, and AB 1131, which would increases from six months to five years the period of time that someone is prohibited from possessing a firearm after communicating a threat of physical violence to a licensed psychotherapist.

They also urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a bill by Bonta that the Legislature already has passed: AB 180, which would give Oakland special permission to pass and enforce gun registration and licensing ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Both lawmakers urged the public to flood the governor’s office with phone calls and letters of support for these bills.

Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley said he was among faith leaders who met with Vice President Joe Biden in January, weeks after the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy, to discuss how to deal with gun violence.

“In many of our communities, we have Newtown tragedies every day,” McBride said Monday, adding he knows the man – a father of young children – who was shot and killed early Sunday evening at Eighth and Page streets in Oakland. “We know one bill won’t solve all the problems, but it gets us closer… This is a moral issue we must respond to today.”

Skinner echoed that – “ We know that gun laws alone will not do this, will not solve it” – and called for local communities to unite behind zero-tolerance policies for gun violence.

The Legislature has a other gun-control bills to consider as well in this final week of its session, including:

  • SB 53 (De Leon) — to require a background check for all ammunition purchases and licenses for all sellers
  • SB 374 (Steinberg) — to ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and retroactively requires an ownership record for all guns
  • SB 396 (Hancock) — to outlaw ownership of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition
  • SB 567 (Jackson) — to update California’s definition of an illegal shotgun to include a shotgun with a revolving cylinder and a rifled bore
  • SB 683 (Block) – to expand safety certificate requirements to long guns, rather than just handguns
  • SB 755 (Wolk) — to expand list of convicts who can’t legally own guns to include of multiple drug or alcohol convictions, carrying ammunition onto school grounds, active participation in street gangs, and others
  • AB 711 (Rendon) — to ban use of lead ammunition by California hunters
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    Gun-control bills tailored for SF, Oakland advance

    The Legislature on Friday sent two city-specific gun control measures – both for the Bay Area – to Gov. Jerry Brown.

    The state Senate passed AB 180 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, which would give Oakland special permission to pass and enforce gun registration and licensing ordinances that are stricter than state law.

    Bonta on Friday noted FBI statistics show Oakland last year had California’s highest violent-crime level, and the nation’s third highest. The city had more than 4,000 firearm-related crimes and 131 homicides in 2012; it has had 65 deaths by firearm so far in 2013.

    “No one can deny that Oakland is suffering,” he said in a news release, adding his bill “is a smart and sensible bill that empowers Oakland and provides local control in addressing gun violence—where it is needed most.”

    Bonta was appointed chair of the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay this year, and he and fellow committee member Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will hold a news conference Monday morning in Oakland to urge Brown to sign this and other bills.

    Meanwhile, the Assembly on Friday passed SB 475 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which would require permission from the San Francisco and San Mateo County boards of supervisors in order for gun shows to be held at the Cow Palace – in effect, banning any future gun shows there.

    “For years, residents, community organizations and elected leaders from the neighborhoods surrounding the Cow Palace have asked to have a voice in the decision to hold gun shows in their backyards, but they have been ignored,” Leno said in a news release Friday. “Meanwhile, firearms related crimes persist in these communities, tearing apart the lives of innocent families who reside in the surrounding area. This proposal gives local communities a say in determining whether they want gun shows in their neighborhoods, especially when they live in daily fear of gun violence.”

    The Cow Palace straddles the county line, and is operated by the state Department of Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions. Leno twice before has authored bills to impose flat-out bans on gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace: AB 2948 of 2008 failed on the Senate floor, and SB 585 of 2009 was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


    New law allows non-citizen election workers

    County elections officials can use non-citizens as polling-place workers in order to translate for voters who don’t speak English, under a bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

    Rob BontaAssemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said his AB 817 will help counties meet federal and state law requiring language assistance at polling sites by drawing upon California’s pool of lawful permanent residents. Bonta issued a news release saying Brown “clearly understands the challenges faced by the increasingly diverse voters in our state related to civic engagement and participation.”

    Eugene Lee, voting rights project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles – which was among the bill’s sponsors – said his group looks forward to working with elections officials to implement the law next year. “The bill will improve opportunities for voters who face language barriers to receive the assistance they need to fully participate in our democracy.”

    The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund also was among the bill’s sponsors, and executive director Arturo Vargas said it also will “provide lawful permanent residents a new opportunity to become more civically engaged.”

    The bill emulates rules already in place that allow elections officials to appoint up to five high-school students per precinct as poll workers before they’re old enough to vote. The Assembly approved AB 817 on a 49-23 vote in May; the state Senate approved it 22-10 in July; and the Assembly concurred in the Senate’s amendments with a 49-25 vote earlier this month.


    Politicians take different tones on BART strike

    It’s always interesting to compare the tones that various politicians take when weighing in on labor issues.

    In this case, of course, it’s the still-threatened Bay Area Rapid Transit strike. California U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein today wrote to BART management and union leaders to urge a resolution to the standoff:

    “We write to strongly encourage all parties involved in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) contract negotiations to use the seven-day ‘cooling off period’ declared by Governor Brown to end the labor dispute.

    “The Bay Area relies on a safe, affordable, and reliable public transportation system, and any BART service disruption has significant impacts on our region’s economy and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the system. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the four-day BART service disruption in July cost the Bay Area at least $73 million in lost productivity.

    “We urge you to resume negotiations in good faith, end the dispute, and work together to avoid any further disruptions to BART service.”

    That seems pretty even-handed. But yesterday, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Oakland; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; and Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, issued a statement after the inquiry board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to review the dispute held a public hearing in Oakland:

    “We’re pleased today’s meeting redirected focus on the ultimate goal of finalizing a fair contract that continues to ensure a safe, dependable public transit system. The panel asked important questions, obtaining documents and testimony that revealed the true financial picture of BART, the actual wages workers earn, and the significant safety issues confronted by employees every day.

    “Testimony revealed inconsistencies in information BART management made public. For example, the figure given for average BART worker pay has been $79,500. But that figure includes management pay. BART’s own documents given to the panel show train operators earn less than $63,000 and station agents earn $64,000 on average. In addition, we learned that workers have offered to significantly increase contributions to pensions and employee medical.

    “These are the type of facts that need to be the focus at the bargaining table. We believe that BART riders deserve good faith negotiations to resume so that rail service can continue uninterrupted.”

    No question where they stand, huh?


    Bonta helps raise money for slain child’s funeral

    Here’s a role no lawmaker should ever have to play: helping to raise funds to cover the funeral expenses of a murdered child from his district.

    Alaysha Carradine   (Family photo)Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s campaign sent out an e-mail this morning soliciting donations to help cover the funeral and burial costs for Alaysha Carradine, 8, who was killed last week during a sleepover at a friend’s home when someone sprayed the friend’s Oakland apartment with gunfire. Two other children were wounded.

    “Now, a family which should have been buying clothes and supplies for third-grade is faced with funeral and burial expenses they cannot afford,” said the e-mail from Bonta, D-Oakland.

    Bonta chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, which held its first hearing May 17 in Oakland.

    Bonta’s e-mail says he and other East Bay figures including Oakland City Council members Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaaf and Lynette McElhaney as well as Port of Oakland Commissioner (and mayoral candidate) Bryan Parker have joined with the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence to raise the funds online.

    All contributions are tax-deductible and any funds raised over the target amount will be donated to the foundation and used to help defray burial expenses for other children who might become victims of gun violence.


    Politicians react to same-sex marriage rulings

    EVERYBODY has something to say about today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here’s the latest from your Bay Area elected officials.

    From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

    “As author of the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, I am thrilled by today’s Supreme Court decision.

    “Today’s ruling clearly establishes that the 14 senators who opposed DOMA in 1996 were correct. It also states that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other married couples. Doing so denies ‘equal protection’ under the Constitution. This is an important and significant decision.

    “Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all. I will introduce that legislation today with 39 cosponsors in the Senate.

    “As a Californian, I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8. The court’s ruling on technical grounds leaves in place former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

    “I believe this decision means marriage equality will finally be restored in California.”

    From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

    “Today my spirits are soaring because the Supreme Court reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.
    “I was proud to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and it is so heartening to see that the federal government will now treat all marriages equally.

    “Because of the Court’s ruling on Proposition 8, millions of Californians will be able to marry the person they love – with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.”

    From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

    “Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice. The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California. The highest court in the land reaffirmed the promise inscribed into its walls: ‘equal justice under law.’

    “Soon, the federal government will no longer discriminate against any family legally married in the United States. California will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental rights of all families. Our country will move one step closer to securing equal protection for all of our citizens.

    “Nearly 44 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots turned the nation’s attention to discrimination against LGBT Americans, the fight for equal rights took a giant step forward. Yet even with today’s victory at the Supreme Court, the struggle for marriage equality is not over. Whether in the courts or in state legislatures, we will not rest until men and women in every state are granted equal rights. We will keep working to ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”

    Tons more, after the jump…
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