June 24, 2022

Gun Violence Prevention Bill Supported By Rep. Raul Ruiz

PASS AREA, CA — The first major federal gun safety legislation in decades was headed to President Joe Biden’s desk on Friday with the support of the congressional lawmaker who represents the Pass Area.

On Friday, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Coachella Valley) voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938). Friday’s final vote tally in the U.S. House of Representatives was 234 to 193, with 14 Republicans voting with Democrats to approve the measure that is expected to be signed by the president.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill in a late-night vote Thursday.

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The federal measure includes millions of dollars for mental health — including the implementation of “red flag laws” to temporarily confiscate guns — school safety measures, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It also makes changes to the process for people ages 18 to 21 who want to buy a firearm, and it closes the “boyfriend loophole” by preventing people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun.

Though the bill fails to ban any weapons, it is considered the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expired assault weapons ban.

Find out what’s happening in Palm Desertwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Ruiz (D-Coachella Valley), an emergency medicine physician, praised S. 2938.

“The House passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a positive step forward in our work to address the gun violence epidemic,” Ruiz said. “With its provisions to help keep guns out of the hands of high-risk individuals, protect victims of domestic violence, and strengthen background checks for young gun buyers, this bipartisan legislation will help save lives. I voted to send this legislation to President Biden’s desk today, and I look forward to seeing him quickly sign it into law. As a physician, I will continue to fight for a public health approach to the gun violence epidemic that reduces gun violence deaths and prioritizes the safety of our children and communities.”

Pastor Brian E. Hawkins, a Republican who also serves on the San Jacinto City Council, will face off against Ruiz in the November General Election. He expressed reservations Friday about S. 2938.

In an emailed statement, Hawkins said federal legislators passed the bill in response to the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, yet he believes the legislation “really doesn’t address the root issues.”

“My heart and condolences to the families and community members,” Hawkins said of the Uvalde shooting. “I’m a father of a 4th-grade daughter and this event was senseless, tragic, and painful.”

But Hawkins said the bill’s name was “a red flag” for him, and he likened the title to state legislation that has been under a microscope since its inception: In 2014, California state legislators passed a similar title bill called Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, also known as Proposition 47.

“Although the legislation has similar titles, the details are drastically different. The problem I see with the Safer Communities Act that reminds me of [the] Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act is it really doesn’t address the root issues,” Hawkins said.

He believes Prop 47 caused “an uprise in crime” as a result of the reclassification of some felonies to misdemeanors, which has resulted in lighter sentences for certain convictions.

“Criminals are now taking bolder chances such as smash-and-grabs and daily walk-up robberies,” he said in his email. “Los Angeles has become a tourist’s nightmare with homelessness, and crime going unprosecuted. I believe we need to do a better job at funding mental health. We don’t have to use mass shootings and gun control rhetoric to draw attention toward it. Prevention should start at the elementary- to middle-school level. We should fund more programs that focus on critical thinking and career technical education. Mental health is real and gun violence isn’t the root cause, it’s the end result of overlooked warning signs.”

In Southwest Riverside County, Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) and Darrell Issa (R-Temecula) voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Issa, whose district includes part of Temecula as well as a swath of San Diego’s North County, did not put out any public statements about his Friday vote, but he did comment on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Today is a great day for the gift of life,” Issa tweeted Friday.

On Wednesday, Issa tweeted that he not would vote in favor of S. 2938.

“I’ve seen enough. The Senate gun control bill is totally unacceptable. I will absolutely vote no,” he said.

In a June 8 statement criticizing U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s position on gun safety, Calvert said his colleague was choosing politics rather than working with the senators who supported the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Unlike Calvert, Pelosi voted in favor of the bill on Friday.

“I am disappointed that Speaker Pelosi has chosen a political approach in response to our recent tragedies rather than working together towards solutions as a bipartisan group of Senators is attempting,” Calvert said in his June 8 statement. “Violent criminals and individuals with serious mental illness are the two groups responsible for the majority of our gun violence. I support efforts to keep guns out of their hands. I do not support taking away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. This is the careful balance we must achieve and requires serious discussions, not partisan gimmicks aimed at dividing Americans.

“I have worked to keep our communities safe by supporting the ban on bump stocks, which turn firearms into automatic weapons,” Calvert’s statement continued. “I also strongly support addressing the mental health crisis in America driving these senseless acts of violence and believe we must do more to harden our schools against these threats.”

Will Rollins, a Democrat who will face off against Calvert in the November General Election, was critical of his opponent’s stance.

“Ken Calvert has gotten more money from the NRA than almost any other congressperson in California,” Rollins said Friday in an emailed statement. “So, while it’s awful that he’s willing to put the gun lobby ahead of protecting kids from mass shootings, it’s unsurprising: he needs the NRA’s cash to survive.

“This vote will come back to haunt him in November, because almost all of us in Riverside County — including gun owners — don’t believe that someone who threatens to shoot up a school should be allowed to walk into a gun store the next day and buy an AR-15,” Rollins continued. “Red flag laws and violent history checks have bipartisan support — it’s just too bad Calvert doesn’t have the backbone of other Republicans like Liz Cheney.”

Note: Patch reached out to Democrat Stephen Houlahan, who will face off against Rep. Issa in the November election, but did not receive an immediate response.

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