SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gun owners groups said Thursday they are considering recall campaigns against five Democratic lawmakers in California, including Assembly Speaker John Perez, for supporting a variety of firearms bills this year.
The effort could be patterned on recall elections in September that unseated two Colorado legislators, including the state Senate president.
The successful Colorado recalls suggest that lawmakers also are vulnerable in California, Jennifer Kerns, who recently founded the group Free California, said at a Capitol news conference.
Some of the lawmakers are newly elected to their seats and have the support of independents who are more likely to oppose gun restrictions, she said.
Kerns is a Republican political strategist who helped with the Colorado effort. She also is the spokeswoman for the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, who was the only lawmaker to attend the news conference.
Donnelly said lawmakers who voted for gun control measures ignored their pledge to support the Constitution.
"When they violate that oath by trying to erase the Second Amendment, then I think we have a duty ... to remove that threat," he said in an interview before the news conference.
He and Kerns denied that the event was designed to promote his bid for governor, noting that both have long opposed gun control measures.
The announcement came nearly two weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown signed 11 gun-control bills into law, including a ban on lead ammunition. Brown, a Democrat facing re-election next year, also vetoed seven firearms bills, including a ban on most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines.
"The speaker and Assembly Democrats are proud of their record on gun safety, which is supported by the overwhelming number of Californians," Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Perez, said in an email responding to the recall threat.
The pro-gun groups plan to decide in about two weeks which lawmakers could be targeted for recalls. They would then have 60 days to collect enough signatures to force special elections early next year.
Kerns and Donnelly said sportsmen and rural residents are particularly galvanized by Brown's signing of AB711, which will make California the first state to ban lead bullets for all types of hunting.
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, acknowledged that the gun groups have little hope of unseating Perez, who has been repeatedly re-elected in a Los Angeles district where 60 percent of voters are registered Democrat.
The groups may target Perez "just to give him a little wakeup call," Paredes said.
Three of the others were recently elected in special elections: Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego, Sen. Norma Torres of Pomona, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego.
Torres called the move "nothing more than a political stunt," while Hueso said the majority of his constituents "support common-sense changes."
The fifth lawmaker, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton is in a district with nearly equal numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans. She said that as a teacher and parent, she "is proud of her support for gun safety laws that will make California's schools and communities safer."
Gonzalez said she would "welcome the opportunity to debate the issue's impact on our community."