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Kamala Harris slams Congress for failing to pass gun control laws

Kamala Harris slams Congress for failing to pass gun control laws
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senate candidate, harshly criticized Congress for failing to pass gun control legislation. Harris, seen earlier this year, spoke at the Politicon convention in downtown Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris slammed Congress on Friday for failing to pass gun control legislation after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

Harris, a candidate for U.S. Senate, drew raucous applause from the audience at the Politicon convention in downtown Los Angeles as she injected herself into the national debate on gun violence -- on a day when shootings occurred on college campuses in Texas and Arizona.

"They should have closed the chambers of Congress, on the House and the Senate side, and said all you members go in there, only you, and spread out the autopsy photos of those babies and require them to look at those photographs. And then vote your conscience," she said.

Harris was questioned by Politico's Mike Allen and Carla Marinucci at an event to promote the launch of the publication's California Playbook newsletter.

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Asked if she had shot a gun before or if she hunts, Harris stumbled over her words before saying she had shot a pistol.

"I'm a good marksman," she said. "That's it. I'm not going any further with this. You have just broken news."

Harris maintained her early lead in the race to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate in what is shaping up to be an intra-party contest, according to a Field Poll released Friday.

The former San Francisco district attorney leads fellow Democrat Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County 30% to 17% among likely voters, followed by Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) with 9%.

Two former state Republican party chairmen, Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, claimed 6% and 3% of the vote, respectively.

The top two candidates in the June primary will advance to a November 2016 general election regardless of party affiliation.

Harris said that she respects Sanchez's work but that the two women are not close.

"I wouldn't call us friends," she said. "I don't know her very well at all."

Harris, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, did not comment on reports that Vice President Joe Biden is considering a run.

She also said that she did not think Gov. Jerry Brown would enter the race but that he would do “really well” if he did.

"Jerry Brown is an anomaly," she said. "I think he would have fun with it if he did."

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