Gun Bills in the Spotlight

After the deadly events that played out in Las Vegas, two controversial pro-gun bills moving through the House this fall are in the spotlight.

The first is the SHARE Act (Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act). Backed by the NRA, the 144 page bill covers a lot of ground.

Aiming to open current restrictions on hunting/shooting on public lands, the bill would reverse the ban on lead tackle and ammunition, allow bird shooting over unharvested crops, and end endangered species protection for Great Lake grey wolves and purchase of new bird habitats. Controversial components of the bill also involve bans on silencers and armor-piercing bullets.

A silencer muffles the noise of a gun once it’s shot. Currently, to obtain one you have to submit fingerprints, a photo and submit to a waiting period of 9 months or more. This waiting period is similar to the one required when you buy a machine guns or explosives. Plus, law enforcement keeps track of the purchase. And, there’s a $200 transfer tax.  The Hearing Protection Act would abolish all these restrictions.

Those who support silencers say they protect hunter’s hearing from damage by muffling gunfire – not actually silencing it.

“It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County).

Those against it say it makes it harder for law enforcement and bystanders to hear and avoid active gunfire.

“What it does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) who is also a hunter. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”

Another sticky issue: the bill proposes legalizing the sale of armor-piercing bullets if the manufacturer labels the ammunition as intended for “sporting purposes.”

Although Democrats have reported they expected a vote on the legislation this week,  Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the bill is not scheduled and he does not know when it’s going to be scheduled. The bill was previously delayed this summer when a shooter open fired on a congressional baseball game injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalia.

The other pro-gun measure moving through the House is called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons across state borders, as long as it is allowed in the state they live in. The NRA says that the act would “ensure that law-abiding citizens do not forfeit their ability to protect themselves as they travel from state to state.”

Counterarguments are that “you’d have a situation where somebody could come from Arizona, where there is no permit required at all to carry a gun, and that person’s Arizona residency would override California law and allow anybody with an Arizona driver’s license or resident card to carry a loaded gun in the state,” Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. This is clearly a concern to those of us in California, which has much stricter gun laws than our neighbors.

What can we do? What can our members of Congress do?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the SHARE Act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act after welcoming Rep. Scalise back to Congress.

She believes Republicans have enough votes to pass both bills, but Democrats can likely block them with a filibuster.

Our representatives in the East Bay have some of the lowest ratings from the NRA; you can thank them for their continued action to fight for our safety and for common sense. In particular, Senators Feinstein and Harris have just announced a bill that would close the loophole allowing modification of automatic weapons. And on October 4, the New York Times reported that Republican leaders may consider banning the kind of device that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to turn his rifles into weapons of mass destruction. Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris: “Thank you for your efforts at gun control. Please vote NO on the SHARE Act, and urge your colleagues to enact restrictions on devices that turn guns into automatic weapons. It isn’t too soon. We don’t need any more mass shootings!” 

Although these bills are seemingly tabled for the present moment, it does not mean the NRA and pro-gun law lobby is backing down.  They’ve been quoted as saying that right-to-carry remains a legislative priority as well as reforming law relating to suppressors.    

And it’s their pattern to go quiet after a violent event.

“Their plan is to avoid the media until the story passes and then figure out someone else to blame,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Here’s a great list of 7 things from Everytown to fight the SHARE Act & Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to help pass common-sense gun laws.

 

Visit With Eric Swalwell’s District Director

On September 27, IEB’s CA-15 Team had the opportunity to meet with Tim Sbranti, Deputy Chief of Staff and District Director for Congressmember Eric Swalwell. This was our first meeting with a member of Swalwell’s staff; here’s what we talked about and the main takeaways from the discussion:

  • IEB’s objectives: to stop Trump’s agenda (a main principle of Indivisible)
  • We support Eric and want to provide positive reinforcement
  • We want our CA-15 team to engage with Swalwell and his staff:
    • Swalwell’s staff have also been in contact with Indivisible Livermore; Tim had recently attended one of their events. We will identify a contact person at Indivisible Livermore and coordinate our communications with them.
    • We’d like to have regular meetings with Swalwell’s staff and will contact Sammy Jo Rudy, Finance Assistant and Organizer, for this.
    • IEB plans to be a presence at Swalwell’s events (town halls, Congress on Your Corner, etc.)
    • We plan to continue to have specific “asks” – just because we like Swalwell doesn’t mean we’ll always like the bills he cosponsors; or there may be an issue where we need to increase his awareness.
  • We discussed what we as a team can do to provide support:
    • Near term – help with voter registration efforts. Tim suggested coordinating with the League of Women Voters (LWV) and the Alameda County Registrar
    • Longer term – flipping red districts in Southern California. Timeframe is June 2018 and potential actions include phone banks and a road trip by bus

Next steps – Please contact us if you’re able to help:

  • Coordinate with the LWV and Alameda County Registrar on voter registration actions
  • Identify specific “asks” we can present to Swalwell’s staff – these can include voting against something, cosponsoring a bill, making a public statement, etc. There’s one included in this communication on the next page that you can start on NOW!
  • Schedule a CA-15 team face-to-face meeting in October – we’ll be in touch about a date and location. If anyone has a suggestion for a location, please let us know.

Action Item:

The Supplemental National Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps and known as CalFresh in California, is under attack. Please call and email and ask him to vote NO on the related House Budget Resolution. Castro Valley: (510) 370-3322; DC: (202) 225-5065

Congress: Renew CHIP Funding

Poor overworked GOP Congress, so busy trying to steal our health care and criminalizing 20-week abortions that it couldn’t find one little minute to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.CHIP funding mapCHIP, a federal-state partnership, provides federal funds to cover low-cost health insurance for nearly 9 million uninsured children from low to modest-income families. If Congress doesn’t act, states will have to make tough decisions about their CHIP programs.

Please call your MoCs today! What to say:

My name is _____, I’m a constituent from [zip code]. Please support a bipartisan reauthorization of the CHIP program, and pass a clean reauthorization bill without policy riders that could delay the bill’s passage.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

IEB Partners with Alameda County Community Food Bank

IEB, through its Outreach to Organizations Team, has partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). September was Hunger Action Month, and ACCFB hosted an event on September 27 to educate the community about the farm bill, a key piece of broad legislation that funds critical anti-hunger programs, primarily the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is called CalFresh in California.

IEB was well represented at the event, which included a celebration of SNAP’s 40th birthday, and featured presentations from Shanti Prasad, Senior Policy Advocate with ACCFB; Melissa Cannon, Nutrition Policy Advocate with California Food Policy Advocates; and Armando Nieto, executive director with Community Food and Justice Coalition.

ACCFB 9.17 event

IEB representatives included Nick Travaglini, Toni Henle, Linda Dougall, Ward Kanowsky, LeAnn Kanowsky, Harold Klobukowski, and Daryl Walke. Also pictured: presenter Shanti Prasad.

Key takeaways included the following:

  • The House Committee on Agriculture has jurisdiction over the farm bill. The committee is chaired by Michael Conaway (R-TX) with Collin Peterson (D-MN) as the ranking member. Majority members from California include Jeff Denham and Doug LaMalfa. The minority member from California is Jim Costa.
  • SNAP is on the chopping block. The FY 2018 House Budget Resolution includes drastic cuts to SNAP.
  • Even though the farm bill has not been introduced yet (it is currently subject to “listening sessions” throughout the country), we can still contact our members of Congress now and urge them to vote no on the 2018 House Budget Resolution and to protect safety net programs like SNAP.

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

Tell Your MoC: Get Puerto Rico the Aid It Needs!

Three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Most of the island remains without power or water; some officials predict that the electric grid may remain down for up to six months. There’s no cell service. Roads have been washed away or blocked by debris. At least sixteen are dead, and that’s just what’s known; many parts of the island are inaccessible and many people have been unable to get in touch with their friends and families.

The government has declared a state of emergency, but aid doesn’t get anywhere by itself. (Paul Ryan says that Congress is working on an aid package that should be ready in a few weeks …)

The federal government has recently waived the Jones Act, a nearly century-old law under which only ships registered in the United States may carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. Under the Jones Act, foreign vessels had to pay punitive tariffs, fees, and taxes to bring American goods to Puerto Rico, or they could reroute to Florida and offload to an American ship, an expensive procedure. These extra costs are passed on to the consumer, making prices there on U.S. goods exorbitantly high: under the Jones Act, food is twice as expensive in Puerto Rico as in Florida.

But as Senators Feinstein and Harris have told the president, Puerto Rico needs more. It needs relief for the entire island, not just the parts covered by the existing disaster declarations. It also needs long-term relief that is not being planned for. Halfway measures won’t fix this problem.

Please thank Senators Feinstein and Harris and contact your members of Congress. 

SCRIPT: This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. Puerto Rico needs our help. I know that help is being given now, but there needs to be a long term relief and rebuilding plan that must include debt forgiveness. I disagree with the proposals for obscene amounts of spending for defense. I want us to nation-build Puerto Rico.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065


Our friends in Mexico City are recovering from a massive quake; and as Puerto Rico was recovering from Irma, it got hit with even greater force by hurricane Maria. Below are some aid agencies doing work on the ground to bring immediate relief to those affected by quake and hurricanes.

Some of the organizations based in Mexico may convert your donation into pesos, so be sure to check the currency.