California has been the site of only one Winter Olympics, the 1960 Squaw Valley games. It was also the Olympic debut of the sport of biathlon, a traditional Northern European competition combining cross country skiing and rifle shooting.
Despite there being no plans for a future California Winter games, some in the legislature want the state to make a statement against the use of guns in Olympic sports.
The resulting legislation, AB 3261, co-authored by 12 Democratic members of the California Assembly, would ban state funds to any community hosting the site of a Winter Olympics if a biathlon competition is included in the games.
The bill was orginally submitted in February as a gun control measure, yet without any specific language, typically known as “spot” legislation (to hold a spot until the full language can be worked out). It was amended last Thursday to include the anti-biathlon wording, catching many in the legislature by surprise as they became aware of it throughout the holiday weekend.
“We understand this will be an uphill battle, but we have to start making a statement on guns somewhere,” said Assembly Public Safety Committee spokesperson Aaron Ross. “We could have tried to make this about all the shooting events held at the Summer Olympics, but that’s for another day. At least in the Summer events the guns are confined to the particular venues. But in the biathlon the competitors carry their rifles, assault weapons really, over a lot of terrain while skiing, near homes and residents. You just don’t know what could happen. It’s dangerous.”
Some view the legislation as a largely symbolic gesture, especially considering the anticipated reaction from both the International and United States Olympic Committees.
Yet others, despite knowing full well this is the very start of April, also know the measure of a good tale is whether it has a modicum of believability.
In California that always seems to be the case.