Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher / Photo by Sam Hodgson

This story has been updated 

Those who receive gift cards when they turn in their guns should not be able to buy new guns with those cards, says Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.

The aim of gun buyback programs is to lower the number of guns owned by civilians and offer a way for them to sell their guns to a government entity, like a police department, without fear of prosecution. In exchange for the gun, police departments typically will offer cash or gift cards.


Gonzalez Fletcher introduced a bill this week that would prohibit a government entity from dispensing gift cards to businesses that sell guns. AB 1903, she said, is about making sure the buyback programs are not “counterproductive.”

She was disturbed after reading about a December buyback event in her district where officials distributed gift cards to Walmart.

“We’re either trying to get guns off the street or we’re not,” Gonzalez Fletcher said.

A spokesperson for Walmart, however, says they don’t sell firearms in their California stores.

Critics have questioned the effectiveness of buyback programs because the firearms that people exchange are often not the types used in violent crimes.

Gonzalez Fletcher said she supports any opportunity to lower the number of guns. “I think it’s one tool and we should encourage all tools to get guns off our streets.”

The bill is expected to get a committee hearing in the coming weeks.

Brown Wants to Accomplish Much in Final Year

Reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s final State of the State address Thursday, highlighting California’s prosperity after the Great Recession, varied among the members of San Diego’s legislative delegation. They disagreed over his record and the challenges ahead.

While Democrats, including state Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego, praised Brown’s defiance to the Trump administration, California Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates, who represents portions of Orange and San Diego counties, lamented what she saw as unfulfilled promises.

Bates said the governor’s speech reflected one side of the story.

“While parts of California are prospering, the sad truth is that the state has the nation’s highest poverty rate when accounting for cost-of-living,” Bates said in a statement. “Our state has become increasingly unaffordable for many Californians.”

She also pointed out the state’s $234 billion unfunded pension liabilities owed to public employees and retirees.

“The governor did not elaborate on how he would pay for it,” she added. “The failure to significantly address the pension issue means the next governor will have to tackle it.”

Atkins noted Brown’s legacy and steadfast commitment to serving taxpayers.

“His unwavering devotion to the natural environment and commitment to long-term sustainability is a model for leaders around the world.” Atkins said in a statement. “He’s been the right leader at the right time, and he deserves tremendous credit for keeping California a beacon light of opportunity and inclusivity during a time of darkness — not just for America but around the world. He is, without a doubt, one of the most important leaders in California’s storied history.”

Atkins acknowledged that “the hard work is not done. We have much to do — such as better prepare for the natural disasters that are increasingly frequent, and enhance our community mental-health and drug-treatment programs to reduce homelessness and crime.”

During the speech, Brown said he plans to accomplish much in his final year as governor. That includes launching a task force of scientists and forestry professionals to review managing the state’s forests and reducing the threat of wildfires.

Weber Considers the Housing Crisis on African Americans

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber was among members of the California Legislative Black Caucus who gathered Wednesday to discuss the impact of the housing crisis on African Americans.

Weber said she is concerned about the deep effects of the Great Recession further aggravating the wealth gap between African Americans and other groups, particularly since many people build equity through their homes.

“Clearly, this group has often lagged behind in homeownership already,” she said.

A statewide group representing African American realtors will provide a list of recommendations for possible legislative solutions, Weber said.

Golden State News

A guide to the 2018 California governor’s race, so far. (Los Angeles Times)

Facing student protests, UC Board of Regents postpone vote on tuition hike until May. (Los Angeles Times)

Soon, California diners may have to ask for a straw, please.  (San Francisco Chronicle)

A looming affirmative action debate: Do race-conscious admissions’ policies discriminate against Asian Americans? (Sacramento Bee)

President Trump’s decision to impose a tariff on imported solar panels may have a huge impact on California. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Novelist T.C. Boyle, who lives in Montecito, reflects on the darkness and solitude following the recent mudslides and largest wildfire in state history. (The New Yorker)

California waitress Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter, dies at 96. (New York Times)

Update: A spokesperson for Walmart tells Voice that Walmart doesn’t sell firearms in their California stores. An earlier version of this newsletter quoted Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher as saying they do. 

Marisa Agha

Marisa Agha is a journalist based in Southern California.

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