California police chiefs come out against gun control ballot measure

The California Police Chiefs Association has joined other groups in opposition to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Prop. 63 “Safety for All” voter initiative.

Newsom, who is currently running to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in office, will place an expansive five-point list of gun control measures in front of voters in the coming general election.

The $3.5 million referendum will end grandfathering of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, require relinquishment of weapons by those prohibited by the state from legal possession and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns. In addition, it would require background checks prior to all ammunition sales – a first for any state.

It is this latter facet that drew particular concern from the group of California’s municipal police chiefs, led by Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney.

The Chiefs did support ammo background checks as passed by the Legislature this year, but oppose this initiative for specific reasons.

“Specifically, Proposition 63 reverses many of the exemptions that allow officers and police departments to continue purchasing ammunition freely for on-duty purposes, and creates a duplicative database that will be a costly and less effective way to monitor ammunition purchases,” Corney wrote in a letter opposing the measure. “Essentially, Proposition 63 complicates current law with one that is costlier and seriously flawed.”

The Chiefs join other police lobby groups against the ballot measure to include the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, California Reserve Peace Officers Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Fish & Game Wardens’ Association, Law Enforcement Action Network and Western States Sheriffs’ Association.

The Coalition for Civil Liberties, an alliance of Second Amendment, law enforcement and civil rights groups spearheaded by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, contend Prop.63 would seize constitutionally protected private property, extort unnecessary fees from those who seek to buy ammo, and criminalize millions of law-abiding Californians while discouraging cooperation with police.

The Yes on 63 committee is lighter on support from the law enforcement community, with only San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, San Francisco Police Commission President Suzy Loftus and Belvedere Police Chief Tricia Seyler listed as endorsing the measure. It should be noted that San Francisco only has two active concealed carry permits granted for a population of 800,000, one of the lowest in the state, a fact that has repeatedly landed the county in court with a reputation of being a “no-issue” jurisdiction.

Dan Newman, speaking for the Prop. 63 campaign, told The LA Times that, “Most Californians — including many in law enforcement — support Prop 63 in order to keep guns and ammo from dangerous people.”

Elsewhere on the ballot, the Chiefs oppose Prop 57 (Parole sentencing reform), Prop 62 (Death penalty repeal) and Prop 64 (Marijuana commercialization) while supporting Prop 66 (Death penalty reform).

This article has been updated to add the Cal Chiefs letter and with the fact the organization supported ammo background checks as passed by the Legislature.