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October 4, 2023

Gov. Newsom Sends Gun Control Rubber Stamp to U.S. Senate

By Larry Keane

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ensuring that his gun control agenda is in safe hands with the appointment of Laphonza Butler to serve in the U.S. Senate following the passing of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Sen. Butler was sworn in this week, a Democrat who until the announcement was residing in Silver Spring, Md., and has spoken little on gun control issues. However, her progressive track record and history of working for liberal causes assures that she will pick up the gun control mantle.

Sen. Feinstein was the longest-serving female senator at the time of her death on Sept. 29. She was also the matriarch of the Senate’s gun control agenda. She helped author the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. That law lasted 10 years and was not reauthorized in 2004. Since then, Sen. Feinstein introduced legislation in every Congress to revive the ban on America’s most-popular selling centerfire rifle. In fact, if she had it her way, gun control would have gone much further.

Sen. Feinstein told 60 Minutes in a 1995 interview, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in,” she said. “I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”

Sen. Bulter’s selection to fill the remainder of Sen. Feinstein’s term promises that not much will change. Sen. Butler is deeply tied to gun control politicians and causes that will surely seek to expand efforts to deprive law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

Who is Laphonza Butler?

Gov. Newsom heaped praise on Sen. Butler for shattering glass ceilings in the Senate. He noted that she is the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate, first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress and third Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.

He also noted that Butler will pick up where Sen. Feinstein left off with gun control.

“As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”

Sen. Butler grew up in Magnolia, Miss., and attended Jackson State University. Her father died when she was just 16. She worked in the labor movement for 20 years and at 30, was elected president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015. She was also SEIU international vice president and president of SEIU California’s state council.

Sen. Butler also ran political campaigns and was part of Vice President Harris’ campaign for the vice presidency. She was previously a senior advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She has been president of Emily’s List, a national political action committee dedicated to electing abortion rights-supportive women candidates to office.

Political Pals

While little in her personal or professional career points to gun control, the list of supporters lining up to congratulate her is telling.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered her endorsement, saying, “A great choice for California and the Senate. Congratulations Laphonza Butler!”

That was echoed by twice-failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, as well as former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile, the Democratic National Committee, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and California Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu, Jimmy Gomez, Ami Berra, Ro Khanna, Sara Jacobs, Mark Takano, Brad Sherman, Gloria Johnson, Nanette Barragán and California Attorney General Rob Bonta. All are ardent gun control supporters.

Even Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) offered congratulations, despite the fact that he’s thrown his hat into the ring for the seat she’s filling until 2024. He’s facing a crowded Democratic field including California Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter – and Sen. Butler if she decides to compete for election.

Gleeful Gun Control

It’s not just gun control politicians that are gleeful at Gov. Newsom’s appointment of Sen. Butler to fill the Senate seat. It’s also gun control groups too.

President of Everytown for Gun Safety’s (and its mouthpiece The Trace) John Feinblatt, the gun control group bankrolled by antigun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Laphonza Butler is an advocate’s advocate and we’re thrilled with her history-making appointment to the Senate. We look forward to working alongside her to keep communities safe from gun violence.”

The Everytown-affiliated Moms Demand Action got in on the action too. Executive Director Angela Ferrell-Zabala wrote on X, “Laphonza Butler is an incredible leader and a fierce advocate for women and girls. I’m thrilled to watch her make history as the first Black lesbian senator to openly serve in Congress. Moms Demand can’t wait to work with her to continue California’s leadership on gun safety!”

Gov. Newsom’s appointment of Sen. Butler is a calculated move to ensure his gun control agenda – including his maligned 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – is preserved. This is his attempt to export California gun control to the rest of the country and potentially pave the way for his own White House bid.

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