|Mike Feuer and Carmen Trutanich|
The school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has put gun control back on the national agenda. Over the last two days it's also become an issue locally, as the candidates for L.A. city attorney jockey to prove how tough they are on guns.
It started on Wednesday, when incumbent Carmen Trutanich wrote a letter expressing support for an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and other measures.
This is the same Carmen Trutanich whose old law firm represented the National Rifle Association in its battles against local gun control measures, and who was endorsed by the NRA in his first campaign.
So on Thursday, his opponent, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, decided to challenge him.
Feuer issued a statement publicly challenging Trutanich and a third candidate, Greg Smith, to renounce support from the NRA.
"Los Angeles residents need a city attorney who will prioritize curbing gun violence -- not a city attorney who's beholden to, supported by, or on the side of the pro-gun lobby," Feuer said in a statement.
Rick Taylor, Trutanich's strategist, blasted Feuer for "cynically" trying to exploit a tragedy. In his own statement, he claimed that Trutanich deserves credit for a continuing decline in L.A.'s violent crime rate.
"It's disgusting and shameless," Taylor said. "The facts are that under Trutanich's leadership gun violence has steadily gone down. What's Feuer talking about?"
Dave Jacobson, Feuer's spokesman, responded again, touting Feuer's endorsement from the Brady Campaign and his long record of authorship of gun control measures. Jacobson also described Trutanich as someone who "was enriched by and endorsed by the NRA" and as someone "who has said we don't need more gun laws."
Indeed, in August 2008, Trutanich told the L.A. Daily News, "My position is we don't need more laws to control guns. We have the laws. We just have to enforce them."
It's not clear exactly when Trutanich's evolution occurred, but it appears to have been after the Tuscon shooting in January 2011. In April 2011, Trutanich sent a letter to Congress urging a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban and a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Trutanich, however, denies he changed his position on the issue.
"There is no evolution," said Trutanich's spokesman, Frank Mateljan. "Nuch has always supported gun control."
Trutanich took a beating in the 2009 race over his firm's work for the NRA. Trutanich said at the time that it was his partner, Chuck Michel, who did the work.
In 1997, when he was on the L.A. City Council, Feuer authored a measure that banned sales of ammunition clips of 10 rounds or more within city limits. Michel sued the city on behalf of a gun store owner, claiming the city had exceeded its authority.
Greg Smith, also running for city attorney, issued a statement Thursday saying he has always supported an assault weapons ban.
So after all that, everybody agrees on the need for an assault weapons ban. We've heard of disagreeing without being disagreeable. For Trutanich and Feuer, this is a new twist: agreeing without being agreeable.