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California Legislature Fails to Pass Concealed Firearm Law on a Technicality

As gun violence plagues the country, the tug-of-war between gun rights and gun regulations on a local and national level will likely continue. Although California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, the Legislature has yet to find a solution for concealed carry permits.

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As of Sept. 2, the Gun Violence Archive reports 450 mass shootings in 2022, compared to 417 in all of 2019.
As of Sept. 2, the Gun Violence Archive reports 450 mass shootings in 2022, compared to 417 in all of 2019.

By Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media

On the last night of this year’s legislative session last week, the State Assembly rejected Senate Bill (SB) 918, authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). The bill — written to strengthen restrictions on concealed firearm permits — was one of several bills the Legislature did not approve during the tension-filled finale to a session marked by pointed debate among members of the Assembly’s Democratic majority.

Before the final vote, supporters of the legislation added an Urgency amendment so it could go into effect immediately — instead of Jan. 1, 2023, when bills passed during the current legislative session take effect.

As an Urgency Measure, SB 918 required 54 votes in the Assembly to pass, rather than the usual 41. The bill received 53 votes which is more than enough votes needed to reach the Governor’s desk had the urgency amendment not been added.

Last June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that “may carry” laws giving states discretionary authority to reject concealed carry permits violated the Second Amendment. The decision rendered California’s law requiring applicants to show “good cause,” or a justifiable reason for needing such a permit unconstitutional.

In his opinion on the case, Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote that states could still prohibit guns in “sensitive places.” Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote in a concurring opinion that the ruling did not affect “shall issue” laws requiring objective licensing requirements such as “fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling, and in laws regarding use of force, among other possible requirements.”

SB 918 complies with the Supreme Court ruling by designating courts, places of worship, zones around schools, hospitals, public parks, libraries, airports, public transportation and bars as sensitive places. The bill requires authorities to review publicly available statements including social media to assess whether applicants present a danger to the public.

Applicants would be required to submit to in-person interviews to ensure they are “qualified,” and licensing officials will be required to interview at least three-character references. The state would also give licensing officials, usually a sheriff’s office, greater ability to revoke a license.

Initially, leaders believed that the measure had enough support to pass with an urgency amendment allowing it to go into effect this month. After the bill passed the Senate with a super majority (2/3) of the votes, it failed to gain a super majority vote in the State Assembly. Seven Democratic Assemblymembers voted against the bill or abstained from voting.

Notably, two Democratic members, Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) who are running for Congress in swing Central Valley districts may have felt the possibility of a political backlash by supporting gun control measures. Retiring Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), voted against the measure, though he was expected to support it.

“I’m very disappointed in the outcome,” the bill’s author, Portantino, told California Black Media. “But for one assembly member who switched their vote from aye to no, we would have had the 54 votes. I plan on reintroducing the bill on Dec. 5. I’ve already spoken to the governor and the Attorney General.”

If it had passed, the bill was likely to face legal challenges because many critics believe that it is too restrictive. The requirement of interviews and character references are points of contention for gun rights groups.

For Gov. Gavin Newsom, prioritizing gun control measures is still a leading priority in this legislative term, responding to an uptick of gun violence across the country. As of Sept. 2, the Gun Violence Archive reports 450 mass shootings in 2022, compared to 417 in all of 2019.

“California has the toughest gun safety laws in the nation, but none of us can afford to be complacent in tackling the gun violence crisis ravaging our country,” said Newsom. “These new measures will help keep children safe at school, keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and responsibly regulate the sale of firearms in our communities.”

Though defeated in this attempt to regulate concealed firearms, Newsom has a number of notable legislative victories, including AB 2571, which restricts the marketing of firearms to children and AB 1594, which strips gun manufacturers of some legal protections when their products are used to commit acts of violence. SB 1327 and AB 1621 target ghost guns by restricting their manufacture, transportation and sale and close the loophole that allowed sale of incomplete and unserialized “firearm precursors.”

As gun violence plagues the country, the tug-of-war between gun rights and gun regulations on a local and national level will likely continue. Although California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, the Legislature has yet to find a solution for concealed carry permits.

“Together, all of the gun laws that we passed make California safer,” Portantino said, “though not having a CCW (concealed weapons permit) consistent with the Supreme Court decision hurts California, which is why I’m committed to bringing it back on Dec. 5.”

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Activism

Through Ads and Advocates, Battle Over Calif. Gambling Propositions Heat Up

A statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), conducted between Sept. 2 and 11 and released on Sept. 15, revealed that 54% of California voters would vote “no” for Prop 27, while 34% would vote “yes.” Twelve percent of the respondents were “unsure.” The survey’s authors wrote that a strong majority of Republicans wouldn’t vote for the proposition, compared to half of Democrats and independents.

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The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November.
The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November.

By McKenzie Jackson | California Black Media

Clint Thompson, a Santa Monica resident in his 30s, wouldn’t say he has been inundated with advertisements supporting or denigrating Propositions 26 and 27, but he sees an ad focused on one of the legislations each time he turns on his television.

“I usually watch the news during the day — NBC — and on NBC, Prop 26 or Prop 27 comes on every other commercial break per show,” said Thompson, an actor, who admitted he hasn’t researched the sports gambling propositions. “Both of the props seem to have good things with them. The commercials seem to have reasons why you should say ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’”

Prop 26 would legalize roulette, dice games, and sports betting on Native American tribal lands if approved by voters in the Nov. 8 election. It is backed by over 50 state Native American tribes.

Prop 27, supported by sportsbooks DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Fanatics, PENN Entertainment, and WynnBet, would give those sports betting companies the reins in sports gambling in the Golden State and allow online gambling.

If people like Thompson feel the advertisements from the campaigns for and against the propositions seem to be flooding the television and radio airwaves — and to be ever-present on social media (Watched a YouTube video lately?) — they might be right.

The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November. That has led to ads backing and slamming the two propositions to be front and center in all forms of media Californians consume.

Dinah Bachrach of the Racial Justice Allies of Sonoma County, a group supporting Prop 26, said the proliferation of ads supporting Prop 27 is concerning.

“They are all over the place,” Bachrach said. “Gambling is already a pretty big business, but to be able to do sports gambling online is dangerous because it hurts what tribal casinos have been able to do for their communities in the state.”

According to Bachrach, Prop 26 protects the sovereignty of native tribes. “It’s a really important racial justice issue,” she said. “Indian casinos provide a tremendous amount of financial support for the casino tribes and the non-casino tribes, and they contribute a lot locally and to the state.”

Bachrach’s organization is one of several civil rights or African American organizations that have thrown its support behind Prop 26.

Santa Clarita NAACP spokesperson Nati Braunstein said in an email, “The NAACP supports Prop 26, which would legalize retail sports betting at California tribal casinos only and opposes Prop 27 which would allow online sports betting via mobile sportsbooks.”

Kathy Fairbanks, speaking for the Yes on 26/No on 27 coalition, composed of California Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and other partners, said winning the approval of every potential voter, including Black Californians, is their goal.

Yes on 27 – Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, the campaign arm of Prop 27 backers, had not returned California Black Media’s requests for comment for this story as of press time. Prop 27 proponents say in ads and the Yes on 27 website repeats that the initiative would help solve California’s homelessness crisis.

Prop 27 imposes a 10% tax on adjusted gross gaming revenue. Eighty-five percent of the taxes go toward fighting California’s homeless and mental health challenges. Non-gaming tribes get the remaining 15% of tax revenue.

Organizations such as Bay Area Community Services, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness, and individuals including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Bay Area Community Services CEO Jamie Almanza, and Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians Chairman Jose “Moke” Simon are listed as Prop 27 supporters on the Yes on 27 website.

On the campaign’s Facebook page, commenter Brandon Gran wrote under an advertisement photo that voting for Prop 27 was a “no brainer.”

“People are already gambling using offshore accounts,” he typed. “Why not allow CA to get a piece of the pie … money that will (hopefully) go to good use.”

However, a statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), conducted between Sept. 2 and 11 and released on Sept. 15, revealed that 54% of California voters would vote “no” for Prop 27, while 34% would vote “yes.” Twelve percent of the respondents were “unsure.”

The survey’s authors wrote that a strong majority of Republicans wouldn’t vote for the proposition, compared to half of Democrats and independents.

“Regionally, majorities in the Inland Empire, Orange/San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area would vote ‘no,’ while likely voters in the Central Valley and Los Angeles are divided,” they wrote. “At least half across most demographic groups would vote ‘no.’ Likely voters age 18 to 44 (52%) and renters (51%) are the only two demographic groups with a slim majority voting ‘yes.’”

The survey, titled “PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government,” did not ask participants about Prop 26. The Yes on 26/No on 27 coalition, said in a news release that the PPIC’s research confirmed what Prop 26 supporters have said for some time.

“Despite raising more than $160 million for a deceptive advertising campaign, California voters are clearly not buying what the out-of-state online gambling corporations behind Prop 27 are selling,” the statement read.

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Activism

San Bernardino County Voting to Leave California; Establish 51st State

According to real estate developer Jeff Burum, a member of the group, San Bernardino County is not getting its fair share from the state of California. The movement is supported by some local mayors such as Acquanetta Warren, mayor of Fontana, and Bill Velto, mayor of Upland.

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Over the years, there have been several efforts led by various groups to partition California — or secede from the state. So far, none of them have succeeded.
Over the years, there have been several efforts led by various groups to partition California — or secede from the state. So far, none of them have succeeded.

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

On Nov. 8, San Bernardino County voters will be presented with a choice on their ballot — leave the state of California and create the 51st state or remain the largest county in the nation.

A consortium in San Bernardino is the latest group of people proposing to alter the boundaries of the state of California. The group wants the county to secede from California and create a 51st state that would be called Empire.

According to real estate developer Jeff Burum, a member of the group, San Bernardino County is not getting its fair share from the state of California. The movement is supported by some local mayors such as Acquanetta Warren, mayor of Fontana, and Bill Velto, mayor of Upland.

“We cannot continue to beg, and crawl … to get resources for our county … Let’s step out and be bold about it and let the people decide what they want to do.” Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren told the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman said, “I’m frustrated, too. I’m frustrated with the state of California. It’s becoming, more and more, ‘one size fits all’ for the greatest state in the nation.”

Burum claimed the move has “overwhelming” support. But he is basing his assessment on a survey of 400 San Bernardino County residents by Wallin Opinion Research.

There are more than 2.1 million people living in the county. San Bernardino is the fifth-most populous county in California and the largest in the nation by area. Geographically, it is larger than Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island combined.

The issue was first brought up at a meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. And it has continued to be discussed at Board of Supervisors meetings over the past few months.

While Board Chair Hagman supports the move, Supervisor Joe Baca Jr., said he disagrees with the effort.

During public comment at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Jane Hunt-Ruble, a San Bernardino County resident, said she opposed the move. But she said it would be popular with people who held anti-government feelings.

“It’s never going to happen,” she said.

A group of Inland Empire-area legislators blasted the move in a joint letter.

“We are shocked with the reasoning behind this initiative, concerned about the cost to taxpayers to essentially ask local officials to do their jobs, and disappointed in the narrative being created regarding our community,” according to a letter signed by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Colton,) State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino,) and Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona.)

The Inland Empire legislators also pointed out that in 2020, one-third of the county’s revenue came from state dollars.

However, the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors agreed to put the issue on the ballot. The county’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to put the secession measure on the 2022 ballot. One supervisor was absent.

According to a press statement, the question will be put on the November ballot.

It asks, “Do the people of San Bernardino County want San Bernardino County elected representatives to study and advocate for all options to obtain the county’s fair share of State funding up to and including secession from the State of California?”

Over the years, there have been several efforts led by various groups to partition California — or secede from the state. So far, none of them have succeeded.

The San Bernardino group’s move isn’t the only recent secession movement. In 2020, a group in northern California lobbied to leave the state and merge with parts of Oregon and Idaho. That group was motivated by dissatisfaction with California’s “liberal policies.”

Also, in 2017, there was gathering momentum for a movement calling for California to leave the Union and create its own country. That movement, labeled Calexit, was headed by Louis Marinelli, an American citizen who lived in Russia. According to Bloomberg, the campaign received financial backing from the Russian government. Marinelli later returned to America, renounced Calexit, and ran for a State Assembly seat. He received 6.4% of the vote.

Creating a new state is a complicated process. For example, secession from California would require approval from state legislatures, Congress and a signature from the president of the United States.

The last states to join the union were Hawaii and Alaska, which were admitted in 1959. And the last state to be formed by splitting away from another state was West Virginia, which was created in 1863.

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Activism

California Cities are Pilot Testing Guaranteed Basic Income Programs

“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of County residents who are living on the brink of the financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency, or a major car repair. This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

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These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.
These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Guaranteed basic income isn’t a new idea. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr talked about the idea of low-income people receiving regular checks from the government in the 1960s. It was brought up again during the 2020 presidential campaign when Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, a technology entrepreneur, made it a major part of his platform.

However, Yang was advocating for Universal Basic Income (UBI), which guarantees payments to everyone.

Guaranteed basic income only targets low-income people.

According to Yang, some kind of guaranteed basic income program is going to be necessary for the future when technology makes many jobs obsolete. A 2020 World Economic Forum study predicted that technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics would eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025. However, guaranteed basic income programs are gaining steam across California as poverty alleviation. Several cities are carrying out pilot programs.

Los Angeles County is conducting a guaranteed basic income pilot program called Breathe. The program provides $1,000 to 1,000 LA County residents over a three-year period. The program will be evaluated by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research.

Breathe is overseen by the county’s Poverty Alleviation Initiative. 180,000 residents applied to take part in the program. On a single day during the process, 95,000 people submitted applications, according to a county press release.

To qualify for Breathe funds, the applicants had to be at least 18 years old, have a single-person household income under $56,000 or $96,000 for a family of four, and have experienced negative impacts due to COVID-19.

One motivation behind the Breathe program was the COVID-19 pandemic, which laid bare the problems of poverty and income inequality.

“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of County residents who are living on the brink of the financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency, or a major car repair. This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

Other guaranteed basic income programs are being pilot-tested in California.

Miracle Messages, an outreach program for the unhoused in San Francisco, started to pilot test a program called Miracle Money last year. Miracle Money provided $500 to homeless people. And the initial program seemed to be a success. According to Miracle Messages, about 50% of the people in the test group were able to find housing after they received the cash payments. Miracle Money was funded by a GoFundMe campaign.

Oakland Resilient Families is a Bay Area program that provides a $500 grant to families for 18 months. The program stresses it is different from universal basic income. “Guaranteed income is meant to provide an income floor but not meant to be a replacement for wages. Guaranteed income can also be targeted to those who need it most,” according to the organization’s website. Oakland Resilient Families is funded by donations.

Mountain View, another Bay Area city is setting up a new guaranteed basic income pilot program called Elevate MV. The pilot program promises to give, for two years, $500 a month to 166 low-income families with at least one child or who are currently pregnant. Elevate MV is operated through the Community Services Agency, a non-profit organization.

In San Diego County a guaranteed income pilot program was launched in March 2020. One hundred and fifty households with young children residing in one of the four priority ZIP codes in the county — Encanto, Paradise Hills, National City and San Ysidro — are receiving $500 a month for two years. The $2.9 million program is run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego with funding from Alliance Healthcare Foundation and from the state’s budget surplus.

These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.

The research showed that the SEED program worked, according to a National Public Radio (NPR) article.

“Among the key findings outlined in a 25-page white paper are that the unconditional cash reduced the month-to-month income fluctuations that households face, increased recipients’ full-time employment by 12 percentage points, and decreased their measurable feelings of anxiety and depression, compared with their control-group counterparts,” said NPR.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched the SEED program in 2019. Following the promising results of the pilot program, in 2020 Tubbs launched Mayors for Guaranteed Income, a coalition of 60 mayors who are advocating for a guaranteed income program to ensure that all Americans have an income floor.

Tubbs lost his bid for re-election in 2020 and is now an adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom who is a proponent of guaranteed income.

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