As gun control supporters gathered for a rally at the scene of the mass shootings near UC Santa Barbara, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Saturday that state lawmakers should not pass any legislation curbing the sale of firearms.
“I don’t believe there’s any place for partisan politics or political agendas in the aftermath of that tragedy,” the state assemblyman said as he campaigned door-to-door in Santa Ana in a cap showing his support for the National Rifle Assn.
Donnelly, who will be Gov. Jerry Brown’s challenger in November if he wins more votes than GOP rival Neel Kashkari in Tuesday’s primary, said he opposed efforts by Democrats to enact new laws 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’s remarks came eight days after 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.
“What’s wrong in the heart of that young man, I don’t believe is going to be fixed by government,” Donnelly said after passing out campaign fliers at houses in Santa Ana. “It can only be fixed by God. There isn’t a legislative solution to every problem.”
On Sunday morning, Donnelly, who lives in Twin Peaks, near Lake Arrowhead, plans to campaign at a “hands-on” gun show at Raahauge’s shooting range in Corona, where people can fire pistols, rifles and semiautomatic machine guns.
Donnelly has made gun-ownership rights a focus of his campaign. On Saturday, he tried to turn the issue against Kashkari, a former investment banker and assistant U.S. Treasury secretary.
“He’s running ads on TV and stuff like that, but the guy’s just not with us,” Donnelly told a Santa Ana man standing outsidse his garage. “He’s not with us on the 2nd Amendment, either.”
But Kashkari, who owns four guns, has also said California should not toughen gun laws in the aftermath of the Isla Vista killings.
“Adding more gun laws on people like me is not going to stop a tragedy like that,” Kashkari said Wednesday at a country club luncheon in Chula Vista.
The Isla Vista killings spurred Assembly members from Santa Barbara and Berkeley to introduce a bill that would create a “gun violence restraining order.” Friends and family members could alert law enforcement if they think someone poses a threat, and police could then get a restraining order barring that person from buying or possessing a gun.
In an interview at the state Capitol on Wednesday, Donnelly spoke in more personal terms about the Isla Vista tragedy, saying something needed to 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.”
In Isla Vista on Saturday, students and residents of the oceanside college town were planning to join gun-control advocates for a rally and march at the convenience store where Rodger gunned down his last victim, 20-year-old Chris Michaels-Martinez.
The young man’s grieving father, Richard Martinez, launched the “Not One More” campaign this week, demanding immediate action from Congress and President Obama to pass stricter gun-control laws.
Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.