Gun laws are one thing Donnelly, Kashkari agree on

Gun laws are one thing Donnelly, Kashkari agree on
Despite a fierce rivalry, Republican gubernatorial candidates Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, right, and Neel Kashkari agree that California should resist the urge to toughen gun laws in the wake of the Isla Vista attacks. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Republican gubernatorial rivals Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari differ on many issues, but in the final run-up to Tuesday's primary there's one they agree on: State lawmakers should resist the impulse to pass new gun restrictions in the aftermath of the mass attacks near UC Santa Barbara.

Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, campaigned Sunday at a Corona gun show, where, in response to questions from attendees, he said military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines should be legal.


A day earlier, Donnelly wore an NRA cap showing his support for the National Rifle Assn. as he walked from house to house passing out campaign fliers. In an interview, he said he opposed efforts by Democrats to pass new state legislation aimed at preventing potentially violent people from buying or owning guns.

"They think government is the answer to every question, and I think they're asking all the wrong questions," Donnelly said.

Donnelly, who is on probation for taking a loaded .45 Colt Mark IV pistol and an ammunition magazine into Ontario International Airport in 2012, told a man standing outside his Santa Ana home that Kashkari was "not with us on the 2nd Amendment."

But Kashkari, who owns two pistols, a rifle and a shotgun, agreed that California needs no further limits on guns.

"It's very easy for politicians to just say we need to do something, and then they add more gun laws on people like me, which doesn't make us safer," Kashkari said at a campaign stop Sunday in Camarillo. "And while that's the reflexive move that's politically popular, we need to focus on the root cause of these tragedies, which really is that breakdown between mental health and law enforcement."

Kashkari, a former investment banker and U.S. Treasury official who lives in Laguna Beach with two big dogs, said he keeps the handguns for personal protection and the other firearms for sport.

"I go to a gun range once in a while, and I'll take a handgun and I'll shoot at targets," Kashkari said before a round of door-to-door campaigning in Oxnard. "Or in my cabin in the woods in Truckee, I'll go out and I'll shoot at a tree stump or something like that. I'm not a hunter myself."

Kashkari and Donnelly are competing in Tuesday's election for the opportunity to challenge Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's bid for reelection in November.

On May 23, college student Elliot Rodger went on a bloody rampage in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara, leaving seven dead, including himself, and 13 wounded. Rodger had bought guns legally in Burbank, Oxnard and Goleta, according to authorities.

The killings spurred Assembly Democrats from Santa Barbara and Berkeley to introduce a bill that would create a "gun violence restraining order." After being alerted that someone posed a threat, police could get a restraining order barring that person from buying or possessing a gun.

In Santa Ana, Donnelly said state lawmakers should not exploit the Isla Vista tragedy to advance a political agenda.

"What's wrong in the heart of that young man, I don't believe is going to be fixed by government," he said. "It can only be fixed by God. There isn't a legislative solution to every problem."

In an interview at the state Capitol on Wednesday, Donnelly spoke in more personal terms about the Isla Vista killings, saying something should be done "to minimize the stigma people feel about reaching out for help." He recalled the suicide of one of his brothers.

"I think too often we look on the outside and think everything's perfect," Donnelly said. "And when people think they're perceived as perfect, they're terrified to let anybody know that they're not.


"I think maybe some public service announcements from celebrities and politicians and people from all walks of life — this is not a political thing, but I think it's an important thing."

Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.