Tim Donnelly

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican candidate for governor, used borrowed firearms, including the handgun pictured here, at a gun range last week in Watsonville. His probation agreement prevents him from using weapons that are not registered to him. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times / February 13, 2014)

SACRAMENTO -- Assemblyman Tim Donnelly took some friendly fire on Friday when he spoke with John and Ken, the radio duo who host a Burbank-based talk show. 

The Republican candidate for governor appeared to violate his probation agreement last week by firing borrowed weapons at a gun range in Santa Cruz County. Donnelly was barred from using firearms that are not registered to him for three years after pleading no contest to two misdemeanors for bringing a loaded weapon to an airport in 2012. 

One of the hosts greeted him on the show by saying, "This is one way to raise your name recognition, if you end up in the paper every few days for some gun violation."

Donnelly laughed and said, "Someone at the L.A. Times is trying to sell some papers."

Asked if he violated his probation, he explained that he was at the gun range for a campaign event when he was offered a Glock pistol. (The handgun was one of three borrowed weapons he fired at the range.)

"It's considered rude if you don't fire someone's gun when it's offered to you," Donnelly said.

One of the hosts responded by saying, "Yeah, but you have an excuse: 'I'd love to, but I might end up in jail.'"

Donnelly said he wasn't sure exactly when his probation is over, but believes it ends soon. According to court records, it ends on March 26, 2015.

He said he wasn't "taking possession" of the gun because he wasn't going to walk out of the building with it.

When it was pointed out that the probation agreement also bars him from using a gun that's not registered to him, Donnelly replied, "I'm not a lawyer. And neither is the L.A. Times reporter."

He later said, "I know what the terms of the probation are. The issue is, do we have the resources to go after petty stuff like this?"

Donnelly said people are trying to "criminalize the Second Amendment" when "at the same time, the government wants to dump violent criminals onto the street." He has been a harsh critic of Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to reduce prison crowding by sending low-level offenders to county jails instead of state lockups. 

Asked if he was facing any legal action for his target practice, Donnelly said, "We haven't heard from anybody."

Christopher Lee, a spokesman for the San Bernardino district attorney, said on Friday that "our office is looking into the matter."

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Gun charges filed against San Bernardino assemblyman

Tim Donnelly gets fine, probation after plea on gun charges

In an underdog campaign for governor, Donnelly expresses high hopes 

Twitter: @chrismegerian