State lawmaker proposes gun bill prompted by Poway synagogue shooting

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Police block the cul-de-sac where John Earnest, the suspected Poway synagogue shooter, lived with his parents.

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SAN DIEGO — A state senator announced Monday he has introduced a gun-control bill prompted by last year’s deadly synagogue shooting in Poway.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, said SB 914 seeks to prevent people under age 21 — like the man who allegedly opened fire at Chabad of Poway last spring, killing one congregant and injuring several others — from illegally buying firearms.

On the morning of April 27, 19-year-old John T. Earnest of Rancho Penasquitos, a Cal State San Marcos nursing student, allegedly carried out the deadly shooting with an unlawfully purchased rifle.

Killed in the rampage on the last day of Passover was 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, who was at the temple with family members to honor her recently deceased mother.

The rabbi of the temple, 57-year-old Yisroel Goldstein, lost a finger in the shooting. Two other people — Almog Peretz, 34, and his 8-year-old niece, Noya Dahan — also were wounded.

Earnest, who allegedly told authorities he shot up the house of worship because he believed Jewish people were “trying to destroy all white people,” faces charges of murder and attempted murder along with more than 100 hate crime-related counts. He could face the death penalty if convicted during his federal court trial, tentatively scheduled to begin in early June.

The defendant was able to buy the weapon he allegedly used to carry out the shooting despite being under 21 and lacking a state-required hunting license, according to Portantino.

His bill would require the Department of Justice and retailers to determine the validity of hunting licenses for people younger than 21 during a 10-day waiting period. Additionally, SB 914 would clarify the definition of a valid hunting license.

“Sadly, no one can undo the tragedy that occurred in Poway,” Portantino. said. “I pray for the families and hope the lessons learned can be used proactively for a better and safer place for our Californians to worship and for families to raise their children in safety.”

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