Assemblyman Adam Gray will be recognized for his advocacy on behalf of gun owners by the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
The association announced Monday it has named Gray, D-Merced, as the Outstanding Legislator of the Year. Founded in 1875, the association fights for Second Amendment rights, protecting firearm freedoms and hunting rights, according to its website.
“Assemblymember Gray has gone above and beyond to protect gun owners and hunters, and that is why we are recognizing him for his many accomplishments in his continued defense of the Second Amendment,” John Fields, executive director of the association, said in a news release.
The association pointed to Gray’s introduction of Assembly Bill 1545, a law that helps citizens retroactively report private-party transfers of firearms, as one of the factors in the decision. Also, Gray voted against Senate Bill 53, which required ammunition vendors to obtain a permit from the Department of Justice.
Gray previously received an A grade from the National Rifle Association.
John Riis-Christensen, former Atwater police chief and board member of the Safety First Shooting Association, said a legislator’s voting record on gun laws sways his vote during an election year. Riis-Christensen said he doesn’t always agree with Gray’s views, but his position on gun rights matters.
“It is very important to have pro-gun representation,” said Riis-Christensen, who’s also a longtime gun collector. “There are approximately 80 million gun owners in the U.S. Without people representing us, then why vote for anybody and put them in office?”
Lon Baugh, an Atwater-based hunter education instructor, said legislators need to protect shooting sports because they provide a boost to the local economy. People travel to Merced County from different parts of California to hunt, he said, which means they stay in local hotels and visit restaurants.
“I think hunting is a pretty big resource in the area,” Baugh said. “There’s a lot of money that changes hands so people can enjoy hunting sports.”
Mike Lynch, Gray’s campaign manager, said the assemblyman believes that legislation should be focused on people who break the law, not those who abide by it.
Lynch said Gray’s position on gun laws could impact November’s election. Gray is being challenged in the race for the 21st Assembly District seat by Republican Jack Mobley, a longtime Merced resident.
Mobley said Gray is better than most Democrats when it comes to supporting gun rights, but not every vote by Gray has reflected that. “He’s had two or three votes that haven’t been good for guns,” Mobley said. “I don’t think this will hurt my campaign because it’s an area where we probably agree.”
The CRPA will present Gray with the award at its 140th Annual Gala on Feb. 28, 2015.