Ammunition control, common interests, and an effort to ease the price of being poor

Good morning, California.

  • San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes Tuesday. 
  • Juul, the San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker, answered by announcing it would appeal to voters via a local ballot measure to block the ban.

“From an optics standpoint, it creates a little bit of awkwardness for a company that can’t sell its own product in the locality where it’s located.”—Derek Carr of the Oakland-based advocacy group ChangeLab Solutions.

Ammunition restrictions coming

A new law requires background checks to buy ammunition.

California gun owners will face a new requirement starting Monday: a requirement that they provide identification and undergo background checks before buying ammunition. Or not.

  • As it is, any adult can buy ammunition by going to a retailer or ordering it online, even if they are barred by law from owning guns.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom authored Proposition 63, a 2016 initiative that included a requirement that people undergo the background checks to show they are legally entitled to own guns before buying ammunition. 

The theory: People should not be able to buy ammunition if they are barred by law from owning guns because they are felons, or have a history of domestic violence or mental illness

Newsom held a news conference Tuesday, along with Attorney General Xavier Becerra and others, to get the word out that the new requirement takes effect on July 1. California is the only state in the union with such a law.

Newsom: “Gun violence is an American epidemic, and California is again on the front lines of combating it.”

Gun owners have sued to invalidate the requirement. That case is pending in U.S. District Court in San Diego.

  • Sean Brady, one of the attorneys suing, contends the requirement will impose an undue burden on legitimate gun owners, calling it “burden for burden’s sake.”

“We will be forced to go to the court soon and ask for the court to enjoin the background check and registration process. We anticipate it being a disaster.”

Sharing a common interest

Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Sen. Kevin de León joined forces on gun control.

Gov. Gavin Newson and former Sen. Kevin de León gave a new spin Tuesday to the old line about there being no permanent enemies or friends in politics, only permanent interests. In this instance, the interest was gun control.

In 2016, the two Democrats jostled for position over their primacy as proponents of strict gun safety legislation. 

  • De León carried numerous gun control measures, including ones to restrict ammunition purchases to people who are legally entitled to own guns.
  • As a gubernatorial candidate, Newsom pushed Proposition 63 of 2016, which, among other things, restricted ammunition purchases to people who are legally entitled to own guns.

In 2016, the de León and Newsom camps sniped at one another. De Leon dismissed the ballot measure as “irrelevant,” in light of bills that had been passed during his time as Senate president pro tem.

All that was history on Tuesday. 

Newsom invited de León to a Capitol news conference on their shared interest: The July 1 start of the requirement, brought about through Proposition 63 and de León legislation, that people pass background checks before buying ammunition.

Newsom: “The fact that we’re here is because we’re looking forward.”

And: “By the way, you want to find daylight, you will have a hard time between the two of us.”

De León: “We agree on the vast majority, almost everything, and we’re here together.”

Later, he said: “I thought it was a classy thing to do.”

De León is running for Los Angeles City Council in March, and, probably, mayor.

'Red flag' legislation

Gov. Gavin Newsom supports bills expanding red flag laws.


Legislators are likely to pass bills expanding the use of gun violence restraining orders, or so-called red flag laws, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he almost surely will sign them into law.

  • Remind me: Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2014 allowing law enforcement officials to ask judges for orders requiring that individuals deemed to be a danger to themselves or others relinquish the firearms. 

Newsom counts 10 bills to expand that law. Here are two:

  • Assembly Bill 61Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco would expand the list of people able to file for a gun violence restraining order to include co-workers and school employees. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed that bill last year. (Update: An earlier version misidentified the bill number.)
  • Assembly Bill 12: Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks would lengthen the time those orders can remain in effect to five years from the current one year.

The National Rifle Association opposes the efforts and, for some bills, has an alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union.

NRA lobbyist Dan Reid: “There’s no due process there. The order just says ‘you’re too dangerous to own a firearm,’ but they don’t address any other element of dangerousness a person might pose, and they do nothing to follow up.”

Irwin: “This is nothing about responsible gun owners. This is taking guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”

Update: An earlier version misidentified the bill number.

Easing the price of being poor

A bill would prohibit authorities from towing cars because of parking tickets.

California’s traffic fines are among the nation’s highest, and fall hardest on poor people.

  • Those high fines lead to greater expenses when cars are booted and towed, and when motorists have to pay to have their licenses reinstated. So says a report by the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.

Sounds familiar: Gov. Jerry Brown responded to a report that 4 million Californians had their licenses suspended for failing to pay traffic fines by signing legislation in 2015 granting amnesty to people who owed hefty traffic fines. 

  • That helped 200,000 get their licenses back. The program expired two years ago.

Democratic Assemblymen David Chiu of San Francisco and Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles are carrying legislation that would go further by prohibiting authorities from towing cars over delinquent parking or traffic citations. 

Chiu: “The biggest challenges California is facing at this time are around income inequality, around homelessness, around struggles involving people who are poor. These provisions will help to impact that without impacting public safety and traffic law.”

The League of California Cities opposes the measure. Its lobbyist, Rony Berdugo, said: “Cities have to have the right tools to manage and balance the parking needs for everyone in our communities.”

  • The Senate Transportation Committee approved the measure, 5-1, but it has several more hurdles before becoming law.

Commentary at CALmatters

Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce: The heart of the debate over the gig economy is how can we improve protections for workers, without losing the control and flexibility they value. You can’t have it both ways. Having job security means the employer will schedule your hours. Without that control, you couldn’t get morning coffee if one day all the baristas choose to sleep in.

Dr. Sandra Hernández and Raymond BaxterCalifornia Health Care Foundation and Blue Shield of California: Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised to sign the largest, most comprehensive set of proposals in years to expand California’s health workforce pipeline—tapping $300 million in the 2019-20 budget to address an often-overlooked threat to our health care system: a shortage of qualified health professionals.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Gov. Gavin Newsom says he has a plan to resolve California’s wildfire crisis that threatens the state’s utilities. His political standing may hinge on its outcome.

Erratum: The June 26 edition of WhatMatters misidentified legislation by Assemblyman Phil Ting to expand gun violence restraining orders. It is Assembly Bill 61.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.

Latest in Newsletters

Fireworks and smoke grenades go off in the background as protesters stand along the police line during a protest calling for justice for victims of police brutality May 29, 2020 Downtown Oakland. Thousands took to the streets Friday night in solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police earlier this week. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters


Much of CA under curfew as unrest continues

The Uptown theater in downtown Napa remains closed to the public on May 8, 2020. Today, businesses in Napa County were permitted to reopen for curbside pickup. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters


As cases rise, some counties hit brakes


Inside schools’ strange likely new reality

Tisha Fernhoff separates the hair of a client receiving a color refreshing at the Beauty Bar Salon in Auburn on April 29, 2020. Fernhoff closed her shop in March because of the mandatory stay-at-home order but began taking occasional clients in order pay her rent and meet other expenses. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo


Why some counties won’t reopen hair salons


Labor vs. Uber, Lyft on Nov. ballot

More than a thousand gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters


Businesses, counties to state: Try to stop us