The tug-of-war over gun-control efforts and gun rights is also playing out in Congress as midterm election campaigns efforts gather steam. Campaign officials for Tony Strickland, a former California assemblyman, who is now running as a Republican candidate for the state’s 25th Congressional District, launched a robocall to constituents the day after the shootings in Santa Barbara.
“Tony has been a longtime supporter of the right for citizens to keep and bear arms and will continue to oppose and actively fight key legislation that would take away our Second Amendment rights to bear arms,” the campaign call said, adding that Strickland has a “lifetime A rating from the NRA.”
Strickland’s campaign said the robocall was pre-scheduled and was not in response to the shootings.
In Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an amendment to boost funding – from $19.5 million to $78 million – to assist states that have laws on the books requiring background checks on gun purchasers. The measure passed with a voice vote, and then on Thursday was adopted by a vote of 260 to 145.
Rep. Lois Capps, (D-Calif.), whose district includes Isla Vista and the University of California, Santa Barbara, campus, called for universal background checks, limits on high-capacity magazines, increased school safety, and stronger gun trafficking penalties during a speech on the House floor Thursday. “Tucson. Carson City. Seal Beach. Atlanta. Oakland. Seattle. Aurora. Oak Creek. Minneapolis. Newtown. Washington Navy Yard. Santa Monica. Ft. Hood,” Capps said. “How many more of these mass shootings do we need before we act?”
Several members of Congress issued statements after Rodger’s rampage, calling for stricter gun-control laws, but only the background check funding boost has been formally proposed. Members of Congress who are known for their support of gun rights have not issued any public statements this week.
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said he will renew calls for legislation that would provide a nationwide, mandated criminal background check for gun buyers that would also ban ownership for those convicted of violent crimes. He also hopes that someday Congress will embrace measures like those being proposed now in California.
“States are laboratories and if this is successful in California, we could bring it nationwide,” he said in an interview. “We need a nationwide solution.”