Encinitas mayor Kristin Gaspar
A San Diego gun-owners’ group financed by a wealthy Santee-based assault-weapons magnate that drew a June primary bead on county supervisorial candidate Kristin Gaspar may now be open to a change of mind.
From the beginning of this year through May 21, the San Diego Gun Owners Association PAC has raised $120,971, spending a total of $107,975 on consultants and fundraising, along with $2750 for production of an online video opposing Gaspar, according to a June10 financial disclosure filing.
Other expenditures revealed by the organization include a total of $32,244 paid to Right Group Consulting, a political operation run by Thomas Knepper, 2014 campaign manager for GOP House candidate Carl DeMaio.
Michael Brown, president of CIM Tactical, was the third-largest contributor to the committee, kicking in a total of $4850 in April. Top giver was Ingrid Poole, widow of big-game hunter Bill Poole of Oceanside, a cofounder of the San Diego branch of the Safari Club, with $6000; second was Rancho Santa Fe real estate maven John Peck, with $5000.
Brown’s company website boasts that it is a specialist in equipping the AR-15, the semiautomatic weapon used to kill 50 people and wound dozens more in the Orlando nightclub massacre.
"We currently manufacture many AR parts you may see on the internet today for various gun makers, military & law enforcement agencies" according to CIM's site, "and have developed our own line of high quality AR parts that we are now making available to the general Public!"
AR-15 accoutrements listed for sale include specialized barrels, optics and sights, "drop in trigger groups,” and other shooting-related paraphernalia.
“CIM Tactical is proud to introduce our new ultra-lightweight (7.5 oz.) free floating 11.5” Handguard with the Magpul M-LOK™ mounting system for AR pistols, carbines & rifles."
Back in January 2013, Republican Gaspar irked the gun-rights supporters by voting as a member of the Encinitas City Council to express the city's support for a federal assault-weapons ban, a proposal now being revived by gun-control advocates, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in the wake of the Orlando shooting.
"Mayor Gaspar supported and voted for a gun ban, but now that she is running for higher office, she says she made a mistake voting for a gun ban,” Michael Schwartz, executive director of the gun-owners’ organization, said in a statement posted online by The Shooters Hangout on May 16.
Continued the statement, "This race has a strong Democrat and a strong Republican running; neither has voted against the Second Amendment as Gaspar has done," referring to Democratic incumbent Dave Roberts and GOP Escondido mayor Sam Abed.
But Gaspar beat Abed for second place and now faces Roberts in the fall. The anti-Gaspar video paid for by the gun PAC and posted on YouTube during the primary campaign has been taken down, and talk of peace is in the air.
Founded in 2015, the San Diego Gun Owners group "was formed due to the aggressive and successful effort to significantly limit or eliminate the ownership and use of firearms and the firearms industry in California at the municipal, county, and state level through legislation and regulation," according to the organization’s website.
Candidates it favors for reelection include San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman and La Mesa city councilwoman Kristine Alessio.
During the run-up to this year's supervisorial primary, Gaspar, now serving as mayor of Encinitas, angered gun-control advocates by rejecting a proposed proclamation against gun violence in the wake of December's San Bernardino massacre, according to a Coast News report.
Reached by phone, Schwartz said that Gaspar, who recently endorsed National Rifle Association favorite Donald Trump for president, has taken other steps that have mollified the gun-rights group, including opposing an effort to zone gun shops out of Encinitas.
The gun group has not yet taken a position on November’s match-up of Gaspar versus incumbent Democrat Dave Roberts, who Schwartz says "has no interest in banning guns."
For his part, AR-15 accessory-maker Brown said by phone he is not against all forms of gun regulation, calling for tougher background checks for weapons buyers.
“I’m a Second Amendment advocate,” noted Brown. “I don’t like to see this happen to anybody — gay, straight or whatever. Too bad one of those people didn’t have a gun and waste that [obscenity].”
(corrected 6/15, 3:55 a.m.)