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Petition seeks to add constitutional protections for California gun owners

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A statewide grassroots group in California has gathered over 60,000 signatures to date proposing a “state constitutional initiative [to] ensure the right to bear arms for all individuals and guarantee the right of all individuals to lawfully use a firearm for personal and property protection, hunting and sport shooting.”

California Gun Rights is attempting to collect over a million valid signatures (950,000 are needed by the May 20 deadline, so that provides a margin to ensure qualification), and is seeking support from activist gun owners to help them meet their goal. To facilitate that, they have posted downloadable copies of their petition in both legal and letter sizes for circulators to use to gather signatures from their family, friends and fellow gun owners and activists, as well as by soliciting from the general public.

The petition is not absolutist, and does make concessions to existing edicts. Potential supporters will need to decide for themselves whether an approach conceding to existing realities is something they perceive as a practical vehicle to make incremental gains. If not, what preferred route toward the goal of “shall not be infringed” is likely to produce superior results?

Gun Rights Examiner contacted organizer Tony Andrade, who wrote the petition. By way of background, he is a graduate of California State University majoring in Government, employed for 21 years by the State, and a long-time political activist.

“My most notable accomplishment: I was the project manager for the recall of California Governor, Gray Davis,” he elaborated. “I have been the proponent of several initiatives.

“I reviewed all states statutes, all laws written in Cal. by the bad guys and addressed each issue,” Andrade explained. “I then submitted the text to the Cal. Legislative Counsel for review. I have not had any objection except being too detailed.

“We now have over 60,000 sign ups by over 500 volunteers,” Andrade answered when asked about currently available manpower. “I have commitments by 25 petition companies to collect 100,000 per week if the funding is available.

“We are not a company but a single purpose proponent,” he explained when asked how his group is organized. “We will dissolve after this project.

“The gun groups are waiting for the report of signatures,” he answered when asked about support from state and national organizations. “I was informed that when we get close they will come on board. There has been absolutely no opposition.”

That may not bear out for all, as one coordinator working on the petition informed Gun Rights Examiner that the largest gun organization has not answered his emails requesting their participation, and a representative for a California-based group called him to express disapproval, advocating instead for “slow but sure” advancements through the legislature and courts. As the fledgling effort does not wish to provoke conflict with other groups that could result in gun owners being discouraged from signing the petition, those group names are being withheld from this report. That said, there are provisions for readers of this column to offer comments explaining in detail the pros and cons, and why they would support or oppose this initiative.

“We are collecting signatures in very liberal areas, including Hollywood, and people are lining up to sign the petition,” Andrade responded when asked what convinces him the California electorate would approve such a measure.

“We have an agreement with People’s Advocate to manage the campaign once we have
the signatures,” he explained when asked if he had a plan along with the organization and the ability to obtain funding needed to wage a political campaign.

“This effort is a win-win,” he answered when asked about downsides if the measure fails to either gather signatures or win at the polls. “Signers are exposed to the issue of losing their civil rights. This issue will not go away.

“We decide every day on many issues,” Andrade responded when asked what he’d say to people who would argue rights aren’t something to be voted on. While they shouldn’t be, the reality is, they are, all the time, generally by legislative representatives and by the courts.

There was one other issue that stood out on a close read of the petition. Section (13)(D)(a) refers to “A treaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward hand grip.” That language appears to be taken directly from the 1989 Roberti-Roos gun ban, and the word used there is “threaded.”

“Judges have ruled that misspelled words do not invalidate the petition,” Andrade explained, stating that section was drafted by legal counsel. Perhaps the entire petition won’t be invalidated, but the effects of that particular section being subject to later challenge remain unclear.

Regardless, that one question should not be a total disqualifier. Readers are encouraged to review the California Gun Rights website and petition to learn more, seek guidance from others if needed, and then make their decision based on an informed opinion.

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No one wants to take your guns – they just want to promote “common sense gun safety.” You believe that, don’t you? My latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it well before the issue hits the stands. Click here to read "‘Gun Control’ Messages ‘Evolve’.”

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