California Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Democrat known for her liberal stance on policy issues ranging from environmental protection to gun control, announced on Thursday that she would not run for office once her current term ends in 2016.
Boxer, 74, is in her fifth Senate term, having served in Congress for more than 30 years. In a video produced by her team, Boxer said that her age wasn’t a factor in her decision to move out of the Senate. She also said she’s not retiring and will continue to fight for the issues she cares about through her political action committee, PAC for a Change.
Boxer will leave a seat with no incumbent running, which could mean a heavily-contested race.
For Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition and executive director of the Calguns Foundation, Boxer’s move is a good thing for California gun owners.
“Boxer’s legacy in California, when coherent, was far from pro-liberty,” Combs told Guns.com. “Not many friends on either side of the aisle, her policies were constantly missing the mark … they were of a far-left tilt that’s been anti-gun throughout her tenure.”
Boxer’s vacancy is also an opportunity to rid the state of its current attorney general, Kamala Harris, Combs said.
“In the U.S. Senate, given the trend, Harris wouldn’t have the power to run free with her far-reaching gun control agenda,” Combs said.
If Harris fails to secure Boxer’s Senate seat in 2016, she could have a run at Gov. Jerry Brown’s spot once he terms out in 2018.
Harris’ office would not comment on whether the attorney general would run for either office or finish out her second term as attorney general, to conclude in 2018.
During her career, Boxer has supported a number of gun control initiatives, starting with the Brady Handgun Bill, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and, among other things, required a five-day waiting period and background check on handgun purchases. The Brady Law was so named for James Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who was shot during an attempted assassination on the commander-in-chief in 1981. Brady only recently died of complications related to that injury.
“For decades preventing gun violence has had few greater champions in the halls of Congress than Senator Barbara Boxer,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement. “She fought tirelessly to get the Brady bill passed and the law has blocked over 2.4 million gun sales to criminals and other dangerous people. Her leadership continued throughout her career. After the Sandy Hook massacre, she made protecting children from gun violence a top priority by introducing the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act, legislation to authorize $40 million for school security grants and the establishment of tip lines for reporting potentially dangerous situations.”
Boxer also co-sponsored a semi-automatic assault weapons ban adopted the same year as the Brady Bill. In 2013, the senator backed legislation banning assault weapons, limiting firearm magazine capacity and national background checks, all of which fell shy of the required majority vote.
As a gun control champion, Boxer left her mark on groups like Moms Demand Action, part of the Everytown for Gun Safety umbrella.
“We will always be grateful to Senator Boxer for her dedication to serving Californians, and in particular for her leadership in the fight for common sense public safety measures that will reduce gun violence and protect children and families,” said Sara Smirin, California chapter leader and volunteer with Moms Demand Action.
Sen. Diane Feinstein frequently worked with Boxer on various causes. She said of Boxer in a statement, “(E)ven though she may leave the Senate, I’m confident she’ll remain a champion on the many issues that defined her public service.”
Feinstein’s office would not comment on Boxer’s gun control legacy and Boxer’s office could not be reached for comment by article publication.