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How to prevent the Californication of America

OpinionHow to prevent the Californication of America

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“My child was killed by a gang member, and you had more sympathy for that gang member than my child who was killed in front of my home.” 

This is the testimony of Emma Rivas, a grieving mother whose son was murdered in Los Angeles, as she confronted Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon for his refusal to uphold his most basic duty: Prosecute the criminals and protect the innocent. 

Last year, during a four-hour town hall in Los Angeles County, a small business owner told me about his store that was broken into four times within the span of just a few months. He called the police each time, but nothing was being done. 


I spoke with a few Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies at the same town hall who explained that – in addition to being wildly understaffed and working countless overtime hours – their hands are largely tied by soft-on-crime state and local laws. Simply put, they’re being prevented from holding criminals accountable. 

Koreatown robbery

The LAPD is searching for a suspect they say robbed two people at gunpoint in March 2023. (Los Angeles Police Department)

These types of stories are far too commonplace for California families and businesses. It’s crucial that we change course here in the Golden State, but it’s also crucial that Congress does everything possible to ensure this crisis of crime doesn’t further spread nationwide. 

The fundamental function of our government is to ensure the safety of its citizens – those in the Oval Office and Sacramento are fundamentally failing to uphold that sacred duty.   

Gascon continues to support California’s statewide zero-bail policy, which ensures the perpetrators of most crimes are quickly back on the streets. Last month, after a suspect who threatened a local school was arrested in possession of two stolen pistols, Gascon’s office initially decided not to charge the suspect at all. He reversed this decision only after the local police chief demanded another review of the case. 

Gascon also continues to support the perverse Propositions 47 and 57 – two soft-on-crime California laws that are perhaps most alarming to imagine at the national level. 

Prop 47 makes property thefts valued at less than $950 an automatic misdemeanor, even if the stolen item was a handgun. The measure also makes incarcerated felons eligible for resentencing and release if their past crimes retroactively qualify as misdemeanors.  

Prop 57 increases parole and “good behavior” opportunities for felons convicted of a “nonviolent felony offense.” Those so-called “nonviolent” crimes include rape, hostage-taking, human trafficking, domestic violence and much more. 

The American people don’t want to live in this world – one in which the laws undermine police officers and help criminals – and I ran for Congress so that my country doesn’t become what my home state has become. There is still a way out, but this crisis demands immediate action.   


Here’s the path to safer streets nationwide: Learn from California’s mistakes. The defund-the-police and soft-on-crime policy experiments were a resounding and undeniable failure. It shouldn’t be partisan or political to keep our communities safe, and lawmakers in Washington need to start legislating and communicating accordingly. 

George Gascon putting on jacket

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has been widely criticized for being soft on crime. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

In 2023, I introduced the Sgt. Steve Owen Defending Our Defenders Act – named in honor of a CA-27 law enforcement hero who was murdered in the line of duty – which would make the murder of a state or local law enforcement officer a federal crime punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty. 

This is just one example of legislative action that would better support our law enforcement and hold criminals accountable, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to accomplish just that. 

One of California’s former governors, Ronald Reagan, once said, “Without respect for the law, the best laws cannot be effective. Without respect for law enforcement, laws cannot be carried out. We must have respect, not only for the law, but also for the many who dedicate their lives to the protection of society through law enforcement.” 


Gascon also continues to support the perverse Propositions 47 and 57 – two soft-on-crime California laws that are perhaps most alarming to imagine at the national level. 

My stepfather was a Los Angeles Police Department officer. My neighbors and friends are law enforcement officers. And I’m proud to represent a community that respects and appreciates our brave men and women in blue who risk their lives every day. 

That’s why I’ll continue to introduce and support common-sense policies in Congress that support a common-sense mission: Respect the law, support the good guys, and prosecute the bad guys. It sounds simple, but that’s how we keep America from becoming what California has become. 



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