My column in this week's San Luis Obispo Tribune addresses a TV ad from local Assembly candidate Democrat Dawn Ortiz-Legg attacking her GOP opponent Jordan Cunningham. Ms. Ortiz-Legg was kind enough to spend about 20 minutes on the phone addressing various issues of interest to me.
Ortiz-Legg's website has a single paragraph devoted to gun control.
I grew up in a family that owned guns. My dad and brother went hunting when I was younger and it was part of my childhood. My husband also owns guns; however, when my husband served in Vietnam, he saw the destructive power of assault weapons. I believe in common sense gun laws that require background checks and keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, such as the mentally ill. California has the toughest guns laws in the nation. I’ll go to Sacramento to ensure they are supported, but not rolled back.
In our conversation, Ortiz-Legg acknowledged that defining exactly what an assault weapon is difficult. The fact that it's so difficult should be a good indication of how silly and meaningless the constantly changing definition is. I asked her when the last time she'd fired a gun was. She replied that she'd been out shooting a handgun a few weeks ago, but it was clear that prior to that time, she would've had a hard time recalling when she last did it.
I've written before that my operating theory when it comes to Democrats and guns is that ignorance reigns. To test my theory, I asked her if a California-mandated (and outlawed as of Jan. 1, 2017) bullet button device allows a person to replace the magazine in an AR-15 style rifle faster or slower than an identical gun sold in, say, Arizona without the device.
Her answer: The bullet button makes it faster to reload.
This is false.
On the plus side, Ortiz-Legg says she opposes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's "Safety for All" initiative, Proposition 63. I walked her through the anti-gun bills passed in the most recent legislative session and generally she said she opposed them.
"I want to make is clear I'm pro-Second Amendment," she told me. "I'm a Democrat, but I'm pro-Second Amendment."
I'd like to believe her, but I'm just very skeptical that she would stand up against her Democratic colleagues on this should the inevitable next step to making us all safer by making it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to own firearms.
Ortiz-Legg said she has talked to a lot of NRA members and she shares some of their concerns. She was familiar with the fact that these AR-15s, which are now being registered and labeled "assault weapons" by the state of California, means that they may not be passed down our kids or grandkids.
However, to "fix" this issue would require the rollback of these gun-control laws—something she says she opposes.
I might be a little more inclined to believe her on the 2nd Amendment if she was more vocal in her opposition to Prop. 63 and said so on her website.
Ortiz-Legg is supported by Planned Parenthood. So, it's no surprise where she stands on the issue. I asked her if there should be any limits whatsoever on abortion, such as after the baby can live outside the womb.
You've heard the mantra before.
"I believe this is an issue between a woman and her doctor," she told me.
I asked her if she knew who Kermit Gosnell was. She did not.
Ortiz-Legg had a big complaint as well. It was clear that she was really angry and troubled by an ad by Cunningham highlighting that she founded the local chapter of Code Pink.
That ad features a protest of the troops by Code Pink activists—but not Ortiz-Legg's San Luis Obispo chapter.
"Being pro-peace means you're pro-vets," she said.
Color me unsympathetic. Lie down with dogs and you shouldn't expect to get up flea-free.
Code Pink is an extreme left-wing organization. Extreme. They are unabashedly anti-Semitic. They are anti-American, which was OK on the left when that was seen as synonymous with anti-Republican with Bush in the White House.
The closest analogue I can come up with from the right side of the political spectrum is if someone had said they supported the John Birch Society for its anti-communist stance. However, you can't exactly be a part of the John Birch Society and disassociate yourself from its anti-Civil Rights history.
I'm no longer a Republican, but I am a conservative, so it should come as no surprise that I cannot support Ortiz-Legg. I applaud her for her statement on her website attacking the high-speed rail to nowhere. It would be great if electing her would have any impact on that, but it won't.
I will say that I do appreciate all of the Democratic candidates locally who've taken time out of their campaigns to talk with me this year. There is little potential political upside for them and a more substantial potential downside.