Apparently there’s at least one gun-policy bill in Sacramento on which both sides of the aisle can agree.
The state Senate Public Safety Committee today approved SB 644, by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, which would increase penalties for felons caught in possession of firearms.
It’s already illegal in California for convicted felons to possess firearms, but current law limits the punishment for that crime to three years or less; SB 644 would increase that sentence to as much as six years and would automatically count such a conviction as a new strike under the state’s “Three Strikes” law.
“I think we all can agree enforcing existing gun laws and giving them real teeth is good public policy,” Cannella said in a news release. “Under the current statute, a felon in possession of a gun does not constitute a serious or violent crime, whereas someone entering a private residence while no one is home is considered a serious offense. A felon in possession of a firearm is surely more of a danger to public safety than someone entering a private residence while no one is home.
“Getting these criminals off our streets is real gun control,” he said. “This is a common sense bill that makes a difference and keeps our families safer.”
Cannella spokesman Jeff Macedo said the committee passed the bill just a few minutes ago. A final vote isn’t available yet because committee vice chairman Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and
member Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, were absent and could still add their votes before the committee adjourns today, but there aren’t any “no” votes thus far.
SB 644 now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s supported by the National Rifle Association, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Modesto and Salinas Police Departments.
UPDATE @ 5:06 P.M.: The committee’s final vote was 6-0; contrary to my earlier information, it was actually state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was absent and didn’t cast a vote today.
Labor Day usually marks the start of the traditional campaign season, when voters start tuning in more earnestly about the issues and candidates on November’s ballot. With that in mind, here are the latest polling numbers from the California Business Roundtable’s weekly survey:
Prop. 30 (Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase) – 54.4 % yes, 40.5 % no
Prop. 31 (two-year budget cycle, etc.) – 40.9 % yes, 36.2 % no
Prop. 32 (bans political contributions by payroll deduction) – 57.3 % yes, 33 % no
Prop. 33 (auto insurance) – 56.5 % yes, 31.8 % no
Prop. 34 (death penalty repeal) – 40.1 % yes, 49.5 % no
Prop. 35 (human trafficking) – 82.2 % yes, 10.8 % no
Prop. 36 (three strikes sentencing reform) – 74.1 % yes, 17.8 % no
Prop. 37 (labeling of GMO foods) – 65.4 % yes, 23.4 % no
Prop. 38 (Molly Munger’s tax increase) – 39.6 % yes, 49.4 % no
Prop. 39 (corporate tax loophole) – 59.2 % yes, 28.9 % no
Prop. 40 (state Senate redistricting) – 47.8 % yes, 25 % no
A lot of money will be spent in the next two months to move these numbers, so don’t read too much into them now. That said, a few thoughts:
Voter support for any measure often declines as Election Day nears, so anything already polling under 60 percent “yes” has a tough road ahead.
Jerry Brown’s tax measure is looking a lot stronger than Molly Munger’s, but neither looks like a powerhouse.
California voters appear ready to save some prison-budget money by putting fewer people away for life (by requiring that a “third strike” be a serious or violent felony), but not by abolishing the astonishingly costly capital punishment process.
Watch for an extremely well-funded ad blitz from the food industry to knock down Prop. 37’s numbers as soon as possible.
In my GOP-convention-inspired-haze, I forgot that a “no” vote on Prop. 40 supports killing the newly drawn district lines, so a “yes” vote preserves the status quo. Never mind, then.
Nobody’s campaigning for Prop. 40, yet it still has more support than opposition; go figure. It won’t for long.
After all the writing that’s been done about the crowded, six-candidate Democratic primary race for state Attorney General, there’s something new to report on the other side: state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, is no longer the only candidate in the GOP field.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced today he has formed an exploratory committee, and has begun setting up a campaign Web site.
“Many people from law enforcement and throughout the political spectrum are urging me to run for Attorney General,” stated Cooley. “I am proud of my crime fighting record as District Attorney. As a career prosecutor and District Attorney of Los Angeles County I have the experience and drive to be California’s top law enforcement officer.”
“California’s Attorney General must be a law enforcement leader with a proven track record of reducing crime and fighting fraud and public corruption,” he said.
The 62-year-old, three-term DA from Toluca Lake claims to have the respect of rank and file cops as well as top law enforcement executives, and crime rates have fallen during his tenure.
Harman – who earlier today rolled out a sort of Three-Strikes law that would let judges permanently revoke licenses from three-time DUI convicts – wasted no time in firing the first salvo at his new rival. His campaign issued a statement from Mike Reynolds of Fresno, co-author of California’s Three Strikes sentencing law:
“Steve Cooley is the most prominent opponent of California’s ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out’ law,” Reynolds said in the statement. “In 2006, Cooley teamed up with pro-prisoner rights Democratic Senator Gloria Romero to promote legislation that would have devastated ‘Three Strikes.’ Serious violent criminals would be released and put back out on the streets only to commit more crime. In fact, under his plan over 2,400 convicted felons would have been put back out into our neighborhoods.”
I’d bet the Democrats are happy that Harman’s going to have to spend some money and time on his primary after all.