In a video released Thursday, California junior Senator Barbara Boxer announced she will not seek re-election in 2016, but that she will continue to work for the causes she has fought for throughout her political career, such as a clean environment, women’s right to abortion and the creation of jobs.
Boxer’s departure will mark the end of a 33-year career in the Senate, serving in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 1993, before being elected to the senate in 1992. Boxer serves on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works as its second most senior member for the Democrats; she also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Ethics. In her career, Boxer has supported legislation upholding abortion rights, environmental protections and gun control.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2014 Isla Vista massacre last Spring, Boxer introduced the Pause for Safety Act, allowing law enforcement a greater degree of freedom to confiscate firearms in certain circumstances by allowing courts to issue temporary orders revoking a person’s possession of a firearm. The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary committee and has yet to be reintroduced in the Senate’s new session.
According to political science professor Lorraine McDonnell, Boxer’s retirement will play little part in whether or not the bill gets passed primarily due to the Republican comeback in the Senate in November.
“Although she has two more years to press for its passage, it’s unlikely to pass even in the Senate now that the Republicans are in the majority in the House and Senate,” McDonnell said in an email. “The interest groups that oppose regulation of handguns are quite strong at the national level and can block most meaningful legislation in this area.”
McDonnell said the lack of national gun control legislation could still be compensated for in predominantly Democratic states, citing the recently enacted SB 505 and AB 1014 California gun control bills that went into effect Jan. 1.
“Gun control legislation that cannot be passed at the national level can often be enacted in ‘blue’ states such as California,” McDonnell said in an email. “[SB 505 and AB 1014] do much of what the Pause for Safety bill would do.”
Both AB 1014 and SB 505 were also introduced following the mass shooting in I.V. last Spring. AB 1014 empowers judges to issue temporary revocations of a person’s possession of a firearm and SB 505 encourages law enforcement officers to check existing gun registries prior to taking a welfare call. (For more on these laws, see here.)
Boxer’s spokesperson Zachary Coile said the senator was glad to see these California bills passed and will continue to push for gun control legislation like the Pause for Safety Act.
“She was very pleased that Governor Brown signed the bill in California,” Coile said. “She will keep fighting for the legislation at the national level.”
Santa Barbara County Republican Party chairman Greg Gandrud said he does not agree with Boxer’s decisions as a senator, particularly in light of the state of the economy over the last five years.
“She has supported a very, very liberal agenda,” Gandrud said. “We’ve gone through a long period of difficult economic times, and her votes have done nothing to improve the situation for Americans who need jobs and are looking to have opportunities.”
With Boxer leaving the Senate, Gandrud said Republicans are looking forward to a new candidate taking her seat.
“She’s been a real ineffective, unrealistic representative for our state for two decades,” Gandrud said. “I’m very happy that we’re going to have someone new.”
According to Campus Democrats President and fourth-year chemistry major Krishna Hammond, the organization is thankful for Boxer’s years of service as an advocate for liberal causes, but is not concerned over who will fill her seat.
“Senator Boxer’s work in both the House and Senate has been exemplary,” Hammond said. “She retires with a legacy of tireless work towards the betterment of women and defense of the environment … There’s plenty of great Democrats in California to continue her work.”