Having failed to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown to reject a wide-ranging package of gun control bills, pro-gun advocates announced on Thursday they will seek to punish Democrats who supported the measures at the ballot box.
"Every single assemblyman and state senator swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, told reporters before speaking at the conference. "And when they violate that oath by trying to erase the Second Amendment, then I think we have a duty" to "remove that threat."
The recall effort, trumpeted during a press conference on the west steps of the state Capitol building, comes after Second Amendment stalwarts successfully recalled two Colorado legislators last month over their votes for tough new gun control measures. Tim Knight, who launched the Colorado effort, spoke in Sacramento on Thursday about a groundswell of popular anger against California's gun control package, as did Sam Paredes of Gun Owners of California.
"Since the governor's action in signing the bills and vetoing bills, we have been inundated with calls and emails, communications with people all over the state of California asking us, what are we going to do about this?" Paredes said, adding that "the recall is one way to send a message: if you continue to do this, we're going to continue to fight."
Targeting the governor himself would have been prohibitively expensive and required a massive amount of signatures, said Jennifer Kerns, who is working on the recall effort and for Donnelly's gubernatorial campaign.
But she cited a number of vulnerable Democratic lawmakers the recall campaign will focus on: Senators Norma Torres and Ben Hueso, in addition to Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Speaker John A. Pérez. That list could grow, Kerns said, brandishing a spreadsheet laying out how lawmakers voted on various gun bills and assessing voter registration splits in their respective districts.
In addition to Donnelly, Kerns said, Republican Assembly members Brian Jones and Shannon Grove have signed on to the recall effort.
Among the gun bills Brown signed this year were a measure banning the use of lead bullets by hunters, a bill granting the Department of Justice more time to run background checks and legislation outlawing magazine repair kits. He vetoed measures that would have prohibited the sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and given Oakland authority to implement its own, more stringent gun control policies.
If the recall effort seems like a longshot, that is in keeping with the California campaigns Kerns champions. She also works as a spokeswoman for the gubernatorial campaign of Donnelly, perhaps the most conservative member of California's overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature.
Donnelly rises often as a dissenting voice on Democratic legislation, including the gun control bills lawmakers took up this session. At the California Republican Party convention earlier this month, the Tea Party favorite warned Brown to "keep his hands off our guns" or "pay the price at the ballot box."
In an email, California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores dismissed the recall push as a publicity stunt.
"This initiative is designed with one purpose in mind and it isn't to recall any members of the legislature," Flores said. "It's a ploy to boost Tim Donnelly's upstart campaign for governor."
Editor's note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Sen. Andy Vidak was supporting the recall campaign.
VIDEO: In order: Tim Knight, Sam Paredes and Tim Donnelly talk about the new gun control push at the State Capitol on October 24, 2013.
PHOTO: Gun control advocate Tim Knight, Sam Paredes of and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly talk about a gun recall effort at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on October 24, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White.