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Democratic leader John Burton criticized for gun remark

April 29, 2011 |  4:09 pm

As California Democrats gathered Friday in Sacramento for their annual convention, party Chairman John Burton, who is known for his bombastic and profanity-laced language, is being criticized for using gun rhetoric to describe how Gov. Jerry Brown should deal with Republican legislators who are blocking his budget proposal.

"He's got an impossible job. He can try shooting somebody and tell the next guy, 'You don't want that to happen to you, you better step up and vote.' "... What's Jerry going to do unless he took out a gun?" Burton said in an interview posted online late Thursday by the Bay Area News Group.

Mark Standriff, spokesman for the California Republican Party, called the statement “poor judgment.”

“I don’t know if Chairman Burton is channeling Charlie Sheen or the other way around,” he said. “I think we can be frank without being vitriolic.”

Such rhetoric has come under scrutiny since the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson in January. Six people were killed in the tragedy, and Giffords, who was shot in the head, is slowly recovering.

On Burton’s comment, there was a bit of hypocrisy from all sides.

In the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, Democrats loudly protested such remarks and imagery when it came from Republicans such as Sarah Palin. On Friday, they minimized Burton’s comment.

“GOP hyper-ventilation begins in 3..2..1” tweeted Democratic consultant Roger Salazar.

And Standriff, while expressing his dismay about Burton’s comments, demurred when repeatedly asked about a similar comment by a Republican Assemblyman about Democrats.

"We've got a .50-caliber with cross hairs and ... we're going to pick off two or three of them using this issue," Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino)  said in a Los Angeles Times story published earlier this month.

-- Seema Mehta in Sacramento