Mark Leno is on a mission to round up illegal guns 

click to enlarge Cow Palace gun shows like the recent Crossroads of the West event could be a thing of the past if Leno's bill passes. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Cow Palace gun shows like the recent Crossroads of the West event could be a thing of the past if Leno's bill passes.

State Senator Mark Leno is on a tear against gun violence. While he was never exactly pro-gun, he’s using his final term in Sacramento to spearhead a number of initiatives.

He’s proposing legislation that would require approval by the Board of Supervisors in San Mateo and San Francisco before any gun shows can be held at the Cow Palace. There are three scheduled for this year alone, in April, June and September The practical effect of this is to prevent any gun shows from taking place at the facility — the very place where, in 1964, the Republican Party held its convention and elected Barry Goldwater as its nominee for president. Now the only conventions at Cow Palace are for the Jehovah’s Witnesses Oh, how times have changed.

Some Republicans will oppose the law, but it’ll pass easily with Democrats controlling both houses in Sacramento.

Another piece of legislation proposed by Leno was actually co-authored by Republican Senator Joel Anderson (San Diego). That law allocates $8 million dollars each year for three years to the Department of Justice so it can round up the 40,000 guns that we know are in the possession of people who aren’t supposed to have them.

Did you know there was such a list? There is. It’s called the Armed Prohibited Persons database. And since parolees and probationers aren’t always required to surrender their guns when they are sentenced to a gun-free existence, there are about 19,000 people on it who still possess handguns and assault weapons.

Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) suggested that since some people might not be aware of the fact that they’re not supposed to have a gun, “before we send out the ninja squad, we might want to send them a letter.” He used the term “ninja squad” multiple times to describe the agents who will be dedicated to this task. (Obviously, he’s one of my favorite people to watch.)

And the best part? The $24 million dollar price tag for rounding up these guns would be borne completely by gun owners themselves. In California, anyone selling or transferring ownership of a gun has to pay a $19 fee. In the past three years, gun purchases have almost tripled from 500,000 to 1.3 million, leaving $25 million in that pot of fees.

After the budget for gun law enforcement was cut last year, the state passed a law allowing use of the gun fees to address gun possession. So, this year, Leno and Anderson are going to do just that. The law passed in the Senate without a single Republican voting against it.

The National Rifle Association is opposed to the law, of course. But in Sacramento, it’s no match for the ninja squad.

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Melissa Griffin

Melissa Griffin

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