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Donnelly pushes for California gun rights

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POSTED April 28, 2014 6:36 p.m.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Republican state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is continuing his focus on gun rights in his campaign for governor, promoting legislation Monday that would expand the right to carry a concealed weapon despite public opinion polls showing Californians generally favor greater firearm restrictions.

The ardent gun-rights advocate from San Bernardino County held a news conference to promote his bill, AB1563, which would shift responsibility for issuing concealed weapons permits from local law enforcement agencies to the state Department of Justice.

He and other gun rights supporters say the current system allows too much discretion by local authorities, leading to favoritism.

Donnelly remains on probation for bringing a loaded handgun into an airport but says he has no “personal experience” with concealed weapons.

In polls, Californians rank issues such as jobs and the economy well above gun rights, on which they generally support more restrictions. For instance, in a Field Poll released last year, 61 percent of voters said it is more important to control guns and ammunition than to protect the rights of gun owners.

When asked why he was continuing to focus on gun rights issues rather than issues such as jobs and the economy, Donnelly said the two are interrelated.

“These are intrinsically linked. Civil rights, having a safe community, is just as important as having a community where businesses feel safe from the oppression from government,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly is part of a field of candidates seeking to advance beyond the top-two primary and challenge Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in November. He and former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari are considered the most likely to advance, but Kashkari has struggled to gain notoriety and support just weeks before the primary.

On Monday his campaign announced that three nationally known Republicans had endorsed his candidacy — former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney; former California Gov. Pete Wilson; and Rep. Darrell Issa.

Recent polls have shown Kashkari trailing Donnelly by double-digits.

Romney said in a statement that Kashkari “has demonstrated courage and steady leadership in tough times.” Kaskhari is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who led the federal bank bailout during the height of the recession.

None of the endorsements align with the overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning California electorate, but they could help Kashkari persuade Republicans to support him in the June primary. In that election, voters are expected to be older, whiter and more conservative than the overall California electorate.

In 2012, before California’s top-two primary took effect, Romney won the Republican presidential primary with 79.5 percent of the vote. He then lost in the general election with just 37 percent of the vote, compared with 60 percent for President Barack Obama.

Wilson, meanwhile, supported Proposition 187 in 1994, a proposal to ban immigrants who are in the country illegally from access to most social services. Support for that initiative led to a steady and steep decline in voter registration for California Republicans, who have struggled to attract younger and nonwhite voters ever since.

Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is considered one of the most conservative members of Congress from California and has led congressional attacks against White House policies.

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