CARLSBAD — Last month Gov. Jerry Brown signed sweeping reforms for gun control.
He inked six bills and vetoed four others, but those six are the focus of a Carlsbad businessman’s petition to overturn the laws in what has been dubbed “Gunmageddon.”
Barry Bahrami has organized a petition drive, online and at gun stores statewide, to get the referendum on the November ballot. The petition efforts launched Aug. 12 and must gather 365,000 signatures by Sept. 29.
Gun proponents have decried Brown and state legislators who pushed through more restrictive laws.
“We’ve all heard of that quote ‘As California goes, so goes the nation’ right?,” asked Lisa Gunther of Gunther Guns in Carlsbad. “These outrageous, unconstitutional bills that passed in July 2016 should alarm the whole nation. But, at the very least, it should alarm Californians enough to get out to vote this November. If we lose the Second Amendment, which amendment is next? Think about that. Even if you don’t own guns, your liberty is being eroded.”
The new legislation includes ammo purchasers to undergo background checks, a state database will be created; bans semi-automatic rifles with bullet buttons allowing magazines to be easily detached and replaced; bans magazines holding more than 10 bullets; and restricts loaning of guns without background checks to close family members.
Bahrami, meanwhile, did not respond to messages for comment on his efforts.
However, Gunther has also been a vocal critic of the state’s newest gun laws. The rallying cry for gun proponents is the loss of the Second Amendment, which gives the right for Americans to bear arms.
Her business, which was approved by the City Council to become the city’s only indoor gun range, has joined the fight and is a petition site.
“These anti-gun bills passed but have not gone into effect yet,” Gunther said. “We are seeing an uptick in purchases of rifles with bullet buttons and lower receivers (which can be used to build out into a rifle) since they will be banned in 2017. New buyers are coming out to purchase shotguns and handguns before the lawmakers decide to ban those, too. People are purchasing more ammunition due to future ammo background checks on the horizon.”
Ron Marcus, a spokesman for the San Diego chapter of the Brady Campaign, said the doomsday scenarios pitched by gun advocates don’t ring true. His organization, though, supports the Second Amendment but advocates for common sense legislation and gun violence prevention.
He said the issue has become a “winner-take-all” fight, although said the new laws need to be tested and if they don’t work, repeal the legislation.
“There is a fight between Second Amendment rights advocates and those who are supposedly against the constitution,” Marcus added. “Those are very polarizing extreme views that have nothing to do with what we are trying to do. We think anything is worth trying. Some will think the laws are too draconian. Anyone who is a responsible gun owner and interested in safety won’t mind a level of caution and regulation that parallels other types of things.”
He said his group takes a “moderate” approach to the issue and said one of the biggest problems is the lack of baseline laws between states. For example, if every state had the same minimum laws, states would not have to go to extra lengths with additional laws.
He said a sensible, nationwide system would be ideal.
“We’re trying to advocate for knowledge and awareness and education about the issue and pass some common sense legislation,” Marcus added. “Other things like cars or drugs or children’s toys receive all kinds of regulations to make sure we can enjoy those things safely. We are trying to have the same approach with guns. We want to have a dialogue.”
Gunther also railed against the legislators who passed the law citing their beginnings at the local level, such as city council. Gunther said it is critical for gun advocates to research their local candidates’ stance on the Second Amendment and gun rights.
She touted the efforts of the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC, run by Michael Schwartz, who fight for gun advocates and stay involved with politics.
However, Gunther said even in conservative cities such as Carlsbad, it is difficult for gun owners and stores, such as hers, to gain traction. Although Gunther Guns was approved for a conditional use permit earlier this year for the indoor range, she has yet been able to do so because of numerous tests and other processes with the city.
“Gunther Guns, which has been open for three years now in Carlsbad, had to fight for two years to open in a city with an all-Republican city councilm,” Gunther added. “Our battle was a small one compared to the battle that is being waged now in the state. Carlsbad businessman Barry Bahrami has decided he’s not going to let lawmakers get away with passing unconstitutional laws. He’s not going to sit back and watch the Second Amendment fall in California.”
Marcus, meanwhile, said Proposition 63, sponsored by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, will expand certain aspects of legislation signed by Brown.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, the bill, if passed, would require ammo sales to be made through a licensed vendor, prohibit large-capacity magazines along with other requirements including prohibiting possession of a firearm by felons and violent criminals.
“It expands on them some what,” Marcus said. “There is an opportunity for the public to voice its true opinion on this.”
Proponents can sign the petition at vetogunmageddon.org and register to vote at sdvote.com.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.