Assemblyman Low Confronts NRA, Advances Gun Control Bills

Days after a gunman fatally shot 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, anger gave way to action as California lawmakers advanced a raft of gun laws.

State hearings on 11 firearm safety bills introduced in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting in December 2015 took on greater import this week with the nation still reeling from the June 12 attack in Florida.

In an Assembly subcommittee meeting Tuesday, Democrats wrangled with National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist Dan Reid, calling him “vicious,” “heartless” and “crazy” for protecting gunmen who “terrorize our streets.”

Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) could barely contain his contempt.

“Less than 72 hours ago, 49 people were slain in a nightclub in Orlando,” Low, an openly gay man, told Reid from the dais. “It’s very difficult for me to sit here and look you in the eye and have respect for you, Dan.”

Low blamed NRA lobbying for allowing 29-year-old Omar Mateen—a man twice investigated for terrorism ties by the FBI—to legally buy a Sig Sauer MCX.

“Of course the reason they were murdered was basically because of your organization, Dan,” Low said.

The proposed Assembly bills would ban so-called “bullet buttons,” which make it easier to reload magazines on some rifles, and limit long-gun purchases to one a month. Others would crack down on false stolen gun reports, allow restraining orders to prevent gun ownership and close loopholes allowing the sale of gun parts.

The gun lobby argued that the slate of new laws would do little to protect the public and would burden lawful gun owners in a state that already has some of the strictest firearm rules in the nation. California has long outlawed assault weapon sales and high-capacity magazines. There’s also a 10-day waiting period for gun buys as opposed to the few-day wait in Florida.

Legislators in both the Assembly and state Senate public safety committees approved the measures Tuesday in hopes of rushing them to the governor’s desk by the end of the month.

On the national level, Senate Democrats trudged through a 15-hour filibuster that forced a compromise Thursday with Republican leaders agreeing to allow votes on proposed gun rules.

Closer to home, Low said he’s heartened to see the swift transition from grief to resolve.

“As you can imagine, the severity of the responsibility for me as a lawmaker is not lost on me,” he told San Jose Inside.

Low, who flew to Los Angeles last weekend to march in the city’s gay pride parade, awoke Sunday morning to news that a gunman mowed down scores of people at Pulse, an iconic LGBT nightclub.

“I was in my hotel room and I just could not get out of bed,” he said. “I was just stunned by what happened. I was confused.”

As reports of the slaughter played out on TV, Low began to receive texts and calls from friends, which prompted him to head out to the gay pride parade to march with other lawmakers and the group Equality California. The normally celebratory event felt somber and tense, Low said. People were crying and hugging and trying to make sense of what happened.

“During the parade, people came up to me, they were very emotional, and said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Low said. “They said, ‘No more praying for change. What are you going to do about this?’”

He carried that sense of urgency to the Assembly floor days later. Having come from a family of law enforcement—a stepdad worked at Elmwood, his mom at Santa Clara County’s Department of Corrections and a brother as a policeman in two Bay Area cities—Low said his stance on gun laws has shifted over time.

“This has been a bit of an evolution for me,” he said. “But given these tragedies over the past decade, and most specifically since Orlando, this hits home. … And if you think about the symbolism of a gay nightclub, which represents a place of freedom, a place to be yourself and a place of love—when that’s attacked, it’s not just an assault to the LGBT community, it’s an assault on all Americans.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

28 Comments

  1. “51% of U.S. Muslims want Sharia”

    https://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/10/51-of-u-s-muslims-want-sharia-60-of-young-muslims-more-loyal-to-islam-than-to-u-s

    The massacre of 49 gay nightclub patrons in Orlando would apparently be LEGAL under Sharia law.

    “Kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436505/mass-shooting-florida-anti-gay-violence-rooted-muslim-law

    “OBAMA IMPORTS 1 MILLION MUSLIMS DURING PRESIDENCY”

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/06/17/obama-admin-pace-issue-one-million-green-cards-migrants-majority-muslim-countries/

    Fifty-one percent of one million Muslims is a lot of homophobes.

    Fortunately, neither the Koran nor Shariah law prohibit ownership of a Glock or the holding of a Concealed Carry Permit.

  2. Do you think if we take guns from law abiding citizens or make it more difficult for them to purchase,that it would prevent criminals from obtain them? This is just another way for those that don’t want guns to strip away our 2nd Ammendment rights.

  3. Disgusting that anti-gun nuts use every tragedy to advance their politics. Disarming law abiding citizens does NOTHING to prevent crime.

  4. Being a clueless liberal is a disease. There is no cure! We are doomed as a nation.

  5. Just wait until Hillary gets into office and starts appointing ultra left Supreme Court Justices…. This is going to get very very bad!

  6. Doesn’t Evan Low represent all people? Or is he there for just his very special interest? Well Evan, as a voter who voted for you once, it is hard for me to sit here and respect you. I will not vote for you again.

  7. Mt Low, since when did the FBI become a branch of the NRA? The NRA is there to defend your rights as a citizen, if you are law abiding and have no criminal record against purchasing a firearm. The FBI investigates and ENFORCES THE LAW prohibiting those people who should not be able to buy a gun, from buying one.

    Please explain why the NRA is at fault?

  8. Didn’t we hear a bunch if squealing and whining about Trump politicizing the Orlando tragedy? Seems the hypocrites just don’t like others trespassing on their territory.

    Not one single gun control law would have prevented this, or any other mass shooting.

    The LGBTQ leadership is too heavily invested in the democrat party, so they will never admit how stupid it is to support a party that has a love affair with a religion that wants them dead. It’s pure insanity.

  9. Gays who are worried about their safety the next time they go out for an evening of socializing should just follow Obama’s example and everything will be fine.

    1. Have your social club secured by federal marshals twenty-four hours before your visit, and have it swept for bugs and bombs by the NSA.

    2. Put in place a triple cordon of Secret Service agents closing off everything within a quarter mile of the premises.

    3. Post agents armed with RPG’s and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles on the roof of the building.

    4. Deploy an AWACS radar surveillance aircraft and airborne F-16 fighter aircraft within 90 seconds flying distance.

    If you do all of this, you won’t need any firearms or a Concealed Carry Permit.

  10. Like Evan Low, my views on guns have changed too. I really didn’t see a need for firearms until a friend was murdered. He might have survived if armed.

    The reports so far indicate that neither an armed security guard, nor 3 quickly-responding Orlando PD officers stopped the threat. The analysis among experts is that all demonstrated poor skills and the death toll should have been much lower based on proper-response scenarios. Complete crime scene and autopsy / casualty reports haven’t been released. We don’t know how many, if any, were hit by OPD “friendly fire”. No doubt other aspects will surface once reports are released.

    It appears likely that the “shelter in place” reaction contributed to the slaughter as did the bar’s “gun-free zone” policy. The Orlando death toll would likely be substantially lower were some patrons armed. That’s been the outcome in Israel and elsewhere under similar conditions.

    My second epiphany was the absence of homophobia among gun owners. No doubt some hold racist, homophobic, or anti-semetic views as does a small number of the general population. But it must be well-hidden because I don’t encounter it – even at ranges in the deep south populated by ‘good old boy’ types. CA gun owners must pass an extensive background check. No felonies, no drug convictions, no dishonorable discharge, no mental health hospitalizations. As a result, gun owners tend to be among the most law-abiding people in the state. And the nicest. I don’t find provocative or rude behavior at ranges.

    I’m not optimistic that our legislators will enact thoughtfully crafted laws that improve public safety. Instead, they seem ill-conceived, emotional reactions like Evan Low’s response blaming the NRA.

    • The Orlando shooting incident was a simple problem, a single gunman who could have been dealt with by a single well-placed shot from anyone in the area who was skilled enough with a firearm to have delivered it. Boom; no more suspect and all those people would have been saved.

      One round of defensive gunfire, well placed, was all that was needed. However, it is easier for politicians to exploit a tragedy to further their own political agenda rather than to face the fact that their anti-gun philosophy, while not causing it, may have helped, in any way, to contribute to the problem.

      The gun is to crime what the camera is to pornography. In cases like this, the means of destruction is irrelevant. Would people have been less dead if the terrorist had used gasoline, or an improvised explosive (which these radical religio-perverts) seem so enamored with and adept at constructing), or pool acid or some other (weaponized) mixture of readily available household chemicals?

      Despite the media’s romanticizing of them, these terrorists are not brave or particularly skilled. They are nothing more than trigger-puller slobs who rely on surprise and the complacency of their victims (and our country) in order to succeed. We need to take those latter factors away from them. Were it up to me, even realizing that I will be labeled as a nutt-case for suggesting it, I would make firearms handling and the legal aspects of self-defense a mandatory part of every school curriculum, together with diversity and tolerance training and the basic tenants of Sharia law intolerance. This is not a gay issue my friends. gays are just the latest target of radical venomous Sharia mind-numbing. I wish the media would stop dignifying people like the Orlando murderer by using terms like “lone wolf” and call them what they are “solo slobs”.

      Perhaps I will write a novel; the title: “The Rainbow Avengers”. Read in to that what you wish. I’m harmless. Let’s just write more laws.

  11. Low said:

    “Less than 72 hours ago, 49 people were slain in a nightclub in Orlando. It’s very difficult for me to sit here and look you in the eye and have respect for you, Dan.”

    I have no difficulty deciding whether to respect Low, because I have zero respect for him.

    The article continues:

    Low blamed NRA lobbying for allowing 29-year-old Omar Mateen—a man twice investigated for terrorism ties by the FBI—to legally buy a Sig Sauer MCX.

    “Of course the reason they were murdered was basically because of your organization, Dan,” Low said. …But Low doesn’t blame the Islamist haters, or even the FBI, which apparently dropped the ball. Instead, Low tries to blame a group of honest, law abiding citizens who do their best to keep the Constitution from being disrespected and subverted by Lowlifes.

    Mr. Low is a reprehensible, digusting excuse for a human being. The murders were due directly to despicable people like Low himself: he would rather see dozens of people murdered, than stand up for the Constitution — which would have saved them, if it was followed.

    If Low and his ilk had stood up for what is right instead of jumping on the mindless gun-confiscation bandwagon, those murdered people and thousands more like them would be alive today. As JSR points out above, just one person with a concealed weapon could easily have saved most, if not all of those murdered. And Low conveniently ignored the fact that the murders were committed in a “gun free zone”, which Low wants to extend to everyone outside his own family and the government:

    Low says his family members are cops and other law enforcement types. So his message is loud and clear: Let Low’s family have all the guns, but confiscate them from honest citizens. That way, all we’ll have to do is call 9-1-1, and then wait 15 or twenty minutes for Low’s uncle to finish his donut, and mosey on over to see who was causing all the racket.

  12. I don’t recall Evan Low coming out against gun violence after San Bernardino or New Town. It seems he limits his righteous indignation to attacks against only one segment of society. Another one trick pony in government.

  13. I really cannot picture how a club that holds 300 people does not have sufficient door security to detect a man bringing in a black rifle.

  14. Very good comments above. How about pointing out Evan exactly how the proposed laws will reduce crime with some facts, backed up by unbiased experts. How about some numbers. How about explaining how the FBI investigates this scum but lets him go, but they think they have the right to take guns from veterans with no investigation. You politicians are all full of crap.

    • I’m sure this will sound ridiculous to “grass eaters” but having a considerable amount of experience with violence myself, there is one law that I believe would work and should be tested.

      For every 10 children (at schools, on field trips or at other common public gathering places) there should be at least 1 armed adult. At every nightclub, restaurant, or other establishment or public gathering place etc., there should be at least 1 or 2 armed adults at each entrance. These people should be trained to a relevant State or local standard, pass a background check and a relevant certification (just as cops do) and be paid and employed by the establishment that they protect.

      Folks, this is not rocket science and you don’t always need a cop to handle security under such a narrow set of circumstances. Cops get training in armed and unarmed self-defense; arrest control techniques; search and seizure laws; laws of arrest; emergency vehicle operation; crisis management; first aid, investigation techniques; rules of evidence etc., etc. as well as site security and are tasked with proactively battling crime, that’s why cops take longer to train and are paid more.

      We can train security personnel to react to threats within the narrow band of onsite security. Here’s their first lesson. If you see a deadly threat approaching and imminent, react as appropriate with deadly force. If not, then don’t. (It’s not like landing the space shuttle).

      Here’s the first quiz question on the State certification exam:

      “If you see an individual approaching a bar and who then starts shooting into it indiscriminately, you should”:

      (A) Call 911 and hope the police get there before he kills everyone

      (B) Return fire immediately and accurately until he ceases to be a threat

      (C) Call your congressman and ask them to pass more gun laws.

      It’s not brain surgery.

  15. Evan Low’s comrades were killed, IMO, because of the Obama administration’s Islamaphobia-phobia. That double negative equates to Islamophilia, and results in not only prohibiting the FBI from using jihad- descriptive terms but also in a fear of or reticence to pursue Muslim suspects. Marteen only had to claim that he was subject to a uncomfortable workplace environment to get the FBI to back off.

  16. Wow. The ignorance shown on this comment thread is staggering. Way to keep it classy, San Jose.

  17. Assemblyman Low’s statements to NRA representative Dan Reid were vile, odious, and slanderous as they are baseless; Assemblyman Low has gone lower than Man has gone before, and he is a despicable vulgarian. I am a firearms owner and member of the NRA, so his invective against Mr. Reid is also an attack on me, and I have taken serious umbrage with what he said. Put it this way: it would be just as vulgar on my part to accuse Assemblyman Low of being a lackey for Beijing, which hates possession of firearms by ordinary people. But, I shall stop short of making such an accusation because not only would it be an unduly prejudicial and possibly bigoted statement, there is no evidence to support such a statement. But I reiterate: Assemblyman Low is a rat bastard for saying that the NRA is responsible for the acts of a mass murderer.

    Nevertheless, it is my sincere hope that Assemblyman Low’s political career is derailed, and I am going to donate again to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, California Rifle & Pistol Association, National Association for Gun Rights, and Gun Owners of America. (Also, people reading this reply should check out pink pistols.org.)

    This ‘raft’ of firearms legislation is NOT ‘gun safety’ bills, they are really bills that will impose additional restrictions on firearms possession and use — as though this stupid state (California) doesn’t have enough uber-restrictive firearms laws just now.

    California’s FIREARMS MURDER RATE is similar to Arizona’s, Nevada’s and New Mexico’s, all of which have far less restrictive firearms laws; the firearms murder rates for Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado are all SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER THAN CALIFORNIA’S — AGAIN DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY TOO HAVE FAR LESS RESTRICTIVE FIREARMS LAWS THAN CALIFORNIA’S. In fact, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming allow people to carry concealed firearms WITHOUT A PERMIT. In light of these facts, California’s firearms laws are ineffective against criminals; they only burden law-abiding firearms owners.

    All of the other neighbouring Western states have mandatory-issue concealed firearm licensing laws. Where are all of the firearms murders that California politicians say will result if California were to enact a mandatory-issue concealed firearm law? California is currently discretionary-issue; non-politically well-connected and other ordinary people need not apply in most counties & cities because the sheriff or police chief — again in most counties & cities — will arbitrarily and capriciously refuse to issue you a permit.

    With California’s uber-restrictive firearms laws as they are now, why is California’s firearms murder rate so high? Perhaps it’s because Californians simply have inferior mentalities compared to people in neighbouring states. In the meantime, it’s time for California to stop lagging the nation — IT’S NOT LEADING THE NATION where firearms laws are concerned. It’s high time for California to change the law to REQUIRE sheriffs and police chiefs to issue concealed firearm permis to qualified applicants, and align its firearms laws with its neighbouring states. California’s handgun safety roster is nothing more than an attempt to reduce the availability of handguns, and it should be eliminated. Demand it, even if it’s necessary to start an initiative to force a referendum.

    Criminals know they have the upper hand in plying their trade in California instead of its neighbouring states because Californians are virtually never likely to be carrying concealed guns, and California’s politicians know this too — they’re the worst hypocrites where this matter is concerned. Tell the politicians that enough is enough, give us the means to defend ourselves against violent criminals, prosecute & imprison them, and identify & treat mentally ill people who pose a danger to others, let alone themselves.

    The real purpose of enacting more restrictions on firearms possession atop existing restrictions on firearms possession is to ultimately effect a prohibition on the possession of firearms by ordinary people — not to ensure public safety. To think otherwise is mental masturbation.

  18. No. Assemblymember Evan Low did not “wrangle” with the NRA rep, as your article misleadingly says. Low abused his position of power to insult and bully Dan Reid of the NRA, who showed just who the lowlife in this exchange really was. Reid maintained his dignity and decorum, showing the quality of character that Assemblymember Evan Low clearly lacks.

    Committee chair Assemblymember Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr. bears equal blame for not shutting down Low’s shocking and abusive tirade.

    The entire hearing was a shameful display of ignorance, arrogance, and intolerance of the lynch mob that California’s legislature has become.

    Timothy Wheeler, MD
    Director
    Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
    A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation