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Guns & California Politics By: Tanya Metaksa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 23, 2002

THOSE LIBERAL FOLKS IN THE LAND OF FRUITS AND NUTS cannot get enough of gun control. Many Hollywood film stars publicly espouse gun control, while maintaining closets full of expensive firearms. There are a few exceptions, of course, with Charlton Heston being the most noteworthy. As President of the NRA he publicly defends the Second Amendment, the NRA, and his firearms

Now Fox Studios is going to make a movie of John Grisham’s Runaway Jury. I became a fan of John Grisham’s writing when I read A Time to Kill. His stories always have an interesting plot that keeps you watching for an unpredictable ending. In Grisham’s "Runaway Jury" the anti-tobacco hero finally gets on a jury that decides a case against the big, bad tobacco companies; but the Fox version will have a different twist: the tobacco industry has morphed into the firearms industry.

According to Josh Spector of the Hollywood Reporter, "Based on John Grisham's best-selling novel of the same name, published in hardcover in 1996 by Doubleday & Co., the thriller centers on a high-stakes firearms case in Biloxi, Miss., where a mysterious man (Cusack) known as Juror No. 2 takes control of the jury, holding the verdict in his hands."

The entertainment industry in California influences politicians: attacking guns and gun owners is great sport. In 1997 when then Attorney General Dan Lungren changed his mind about what constituted so-called "assault weapons" and began confiscating those guns that he unilaterally changed from rifles to "assault weapons" overnight. Of course, his change of heart didn’t sit well with gun owners and in 1998 they deserted him in droves when he ran for Governor against Grey Davis. Lungren managed to become one of the biggest political losers in the history of California.

Lungren’s loss gave the Democrats not only the Governorship, but also control of both houses of the legislature. As a result the Democrats went on a rampage of promoting more gun bans. Even Grey Davis, who is not a pro-gun governor, found the onslaught so persistent that he asked the legislature for a one-year moratorium on gun laws. Now the year is over and they are back at it with a vengeance.

Copying U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein’s legislative efforts to ban .50 caliber BMG rifles, Hollywood Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D) introduced AB 2222, which seeks to force gun owners to either register or destroy their personally owned .50 caliber BMG rifles. AB 2222 would create a new permit system for single shot bolt action rifles that certainly are not the criminals’ gun of choice. In addition the bill would the bill would ban "small-arms armor-piercing ammunition." A hearing was held on Tuesday, April 16, but only partial testimony was heard, thus, the hearing will conclude tomorrow followed immediately thereafter with the Assembly Public Safety Committee voting on AB2222.

If that isn’t enough for the gun grabbers, on April 24 Senator Don Perata, (who in 1999 authored and was responsible for the passage of SB 23, a draconian gun ban) will promote his latest anti-gun proposal: constitutional amendment SCA 12. SCA 12 would add a nickel sales tax on every cartridge sold in California. Senator Perata will be addressing a hearing on SCA 12 before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Since he has told the media that the money from the ammo tax would go to emergency rooms to treat uninsured gunshot victims and to "save" California's hospital trauma centers, he is seeking support from the Committee that is in charge of hospital trauma centers.

If the California legislature passes SCA 12, it would be on the November 2002 ballot to be approved by a majority of voters in the state. It would be on the same date as the election for Governor and most of the legislature. It will be interesting to see if Governor Davis has any opinions on SCA 12.

After all Davis, whose approval rating in California is not very high, needs all the votes he can get. A ballot measure, which would cause gun owners to go to the polls in record numbers, could be extremely detrimental to Gray’s re-election efforts. Bill Simon, the Republican candidate for Governor, has already voiced his opinion on SCA 12: he says no.

If Perata’s SCA 12 makes it to the November ballot, will it hurt Davis and the Democrats? Do the Republicans in the Assembly and Senate vote to put it on the ballot? Does Grey Davis lobby against it? How do Democrats in swing districts vote? Stay tuned to the next episode of Perata’s Stupid California Amendment; it may be the most interesting California political event of 2002.

Tanya K. Metaksa is the former executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. She is the author of Safe, Not Sorry a self-protection manual, published in 1997. She has appeared on numerous talk and interview shows such as "Crossfire," the "Today" show, "Nightline," "This Week with David Brinkley" and the "McNeil-Lehrer Hour," among others.

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