The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 1, 2010
Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman react - sort of - to big gun ruling

Politicians tend to duck when questions turn to the volatile issue of guns, and they're diving for cover again in 2010.

We asked the candidates what they thought as we prepared a package of articles for this Sunday's Forum focusing on this week's landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, McDonald vs. Chicago, expanding gun owners' rights.

Not much, apparently.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, declined through a spokesman to comment on the ruling.

But in a little noticed action last year, Brown filed a friend of the court brief urging that the justices take up the case. Unlike many states, Brown's said in the brief, California has no state constitutional equivalent of the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms.

"Unless the protections of the Second Amendment extend to citizens living in the states as well as to those living in federal enclaves, California citizens could be deprived of the constitutional right to possess handguns in their homes," he wrote.

Brown urged that the court "should extend to the states" the concept that government "cannot deny citizens the right to possess handguns in their homes, but also provide guidance on the scope of the state's ability to reasonable regulate firearms."

Brown's decision against commenting on the decision was in keeping with his past, at least according to those who remember dealing with him when he was governor the first time.

"Jerry Brown was exceptionally cautious about the gun issue," said veteran Republican consultant Bill Saracino, who formerly oversaw the conservative Gun Owners of California. "He was never vocal on the gun issue."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman didn't exactly react to the high court decision, either.

Sarah Pompei, a spokeswoman for the candidate, said Whitman "has been entirely consistent in her support of the Second Amendment, and in her belief that there should be no new restrictions on the books."

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, offered a little more insight, saying the decision makes it "critical that California state and local government, law enforcement and the courts work diligently to preserve our gun laws in order to keep our communities safe."

"Getting illegal guns off our streets and protecting California's assault weapons ban have been among my highest priorities as District Attorney and will remain top priorities when I am Attorney General," Harris said in a statement.

Harris' Republican foe, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, said through a spokesman that the decision was a "logical extension" of a ruling issued two years ago.

The decision, Cooley's statement said, "will hopefully reconcile the confusion created by thousands of districts passing their own customized laws controlling the lawful possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens."

Of course, the campaign is young. We at The Bee will catch up to them and make an effort to pin them down on this important issue.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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