Karen Bass is a victim. Why the questions about stolen guns?

Since Karen Bass announced that she is running for mayor of Los Angeles, she has largely downplayed the historical implications of her candidacy.

If she beats developer Rick Caruso, she will become the first woman and only the second black person to lead the nation’s second largest city. And yet, as diverse as LA is, the longtime congresswoman has resisted being labeled a “black candidate” or a “female candidate.”

When I asked Bass in May about the importance of her appeal to black voters, she told me she was more concerned with having “a very diverse coalition — racially diverse, ideologically diverse, geographically diverse … because it’s consistent with my leading my.” Life.”

And just this month, Bass said on the 19th that voters “appreciate my message and my understanding of the issues and experiences. Of course, every time you break the glass ceiling, it’s vital. But I don’t think voters will vote because I’m a woman.”

But I can’t help but wonder if that might change now that race and gender politics have been mixed up with poisonous gun politics.

“It’s the whole narrative that they’re trying to create, which is always created with black elected officials,” Bass told me, “…trying to discredit me.”

Confused? let’s go back

Back to earlier this month, the Bass campaign shook up the mayoral race by announcing that two handguns had been stolen from the Congressman’s home in Baldwin Vista.

Bass said she walked in the door on a Friday night, saw signs of a break-in, and called LAPD. Meanwhile, cash, electronics, and other valuables had been left behind.

So far, two men have been charged — Patricio Munoz, 42, and Juan Espinoza, 24. But the LAPD said both gave false names when arrested.

The case is creepy at best and lazy at worst. Bass has described the whole thing as “annoying”.

What was the motive? Is someone trying to target the congresswoman? To send her a message by breaking into her house? To frame her for a crime? Trying to embarrass her by forcing her to publicly admit she owns guns?

These are important questions that need to be answered. Public speculation is already rampant.

But here things have taken a more depressing, if politically predictable, turn.

The Bass campaign confirmed almost immediately that the handguns – later identified as .38 caliber revolvers – were registered to the congresswoman and kept “safe and secure” in a Brinks locker in her closet.

But within days, Caruso was specifically asking Bass to show they were legally registered and somehow prove they were properly stored.

And then, last week, LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who has supported Caruso, sent a letter to City Atty. Mike Feuer and LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who wanted to know how the guns were stored, to whom they were registered and when, and if Bass is under investigation for violations of the city’s safekeeping laws.

“They have a campaign asking you to prove something, not the police,” Bass ranted.

This all came to a head during Wednesday night’s televised mayoral debate at the Skirball Cultural Center.

My co-host, Fox 11 news anchor Elex Michaelson, asked Bass about the burglary and their handguns. Discussing her public safety plan, she admitted she doesn’t feel as safe as she used to, then fixed Caruso with a disappointed look that a mother could give her wayward 10-year-old child.

“I’m discouraged, Rick. So I just want to take a moment and speak directly to the people of Los Angeles,” Bass began with more than a touch of outrage. “I was broken into. I called the police and later they arrested two suspects and the storage and registration was 100% legal. I think that’s an act of desperation, Rick.”

Rick Caruso appears on a television screen with Representative Karen Bass during his mayoral debate.

Developer Rick Caruso appears on a television screen during his mayoral debate with Rep. Karen Bass at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

She went on to call Buscaino, who was sitting in the front row, because he had “called for an investigation into the theft at my home.”

I heard a rumble of assent from some black men seated behind me.

Caruso glanced down.

“What I said about your burglary is that I feel sorry for everyone – including you – that that happened,” he said, adding, “There are two guns in the street now and we have horrific gun violence in.” the city of Los Engel. And that’s a shame and I know it hurts you, but knowing how these are stored is easy to answer.”

I met with Buscaino after the debate. He told me that his questions were directed at LAPD and the DA’s office, not Bass, who was the “victim.”

“I think Karen deserves those answers, the general public deserves answers,” he told me.

I don’t really buy this. Neither does bass.

“That he would actually stoop to saying that someone who was actually a victim of a crime should be investigated,” she told me Thursday. “And what kind of dog whistle does that trigger?”

When I asked Buscaino if he thought race or gender had anything to do with the response to Bass’s gun theft, he gasped, shook his head, and said to me, “Me Hope Not.”

I hope not either. But somehow I doubt we’d have the same discussion if someone broke into Caruso’s house and stole two handguns — assuming he owns guns, which he allegedly doesn’t.

Bass doubts that too.

Things are complicated enough for black people who own guns even if they don’t run for mayor or are elected to Congress. I wrote about this after the US Supreme Court overturned some gun control laws that made it harder for people to get licensed to carry guns in public.

Black gun owners are regularly confronted with racial stereotypes and fears – especially at a time when polls show so many people are concerned about rising crime and gang violence.

And yet it is black people – especially women – who buy the most guns. Between 2019 and 2020 alone, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there was a 58% increase, despite Americans stocking up on firearms at record rates overall. Southern California is hardly exempt from this trend.

That’s why I was so confused by the initial reaction to Bass’ guns being stolen. Many seemed shocked that she even owned them, so for weeks I’ve been hearing a variation of, “Oh my god! She has guns! Why does she need guns?”

It’s almost as if we liberals bought our own rhetoric. That only crazy conservatives in red states have guns – and for no reason – while people in blue states are above such tools of violence.

The truth is, I know probably as many, if not more, people with guns in Los Angeles than I did when I lived in Indianapolis.

Bass has said that she owned her revolvers for self-defence. But feeling insecure isn’t the only reason people might own a gun. Maybe they only want one. Or because shooting is a fun hobby. Or because they inherited it from a relative. Or because they bought it years ago, locked it up and forgot about it.

Bass has also received excitement about owning guns, mostly from conservative pundits, while also decrying gun violence and supporting gun control.

In fact, that same day, the congresswoman castigated Caruso at the debate, Atty. General Rob Bonta announced that California is opening a nation-first Gun Violence Prevention Bureau to keep guns away from “dangerous people” and encourage research.

“Of course I support gun control,” Bass told me. “But it’s kind of a cliché that anyone who supports gun control would never own a gun.”

She pointed to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) who is not being criticized for owning guns, being an avid hunter and campaigning for gun control.

“I think part of that is gender,” Bass told me. “I also think that it has an absolutely racist component.”

I have no doubt that a number of Angelenos will agree with her – and Bass already has a double-digit lead over Caruso in the last poll before the November 8 election.

Regardless of who wins, however, it’s clear that we need to have a more honest conversation about guns in Los Angeles. About who owns them, why they own them, and how that feeds into the much larger discussion of reducing violent crime at a time when America has more guns than people.

I’m not sure we’re going to get any of that out of this mayoral campaign. But in the meantime, politicians who crack down on crime might want to stop blaming the victim.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-25/karen-bass-victim-stolen-guns-la-mayor-race-caruso Karen Bass is a victim. Why the questions about stolen guns?

Alley Einstein

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