California holds some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, and with recent legislation passed in states such as Colorado, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut, the Golden State is looking to tighten its own restrictions. The state senate passed on Wednesday a package of seven new gun control bills, including one that would prohibit the purchase, sale, and manufacture of semiautomatic rifles that uses detachable magazines.
The seven bills are:
- SB 47: An amendment to the state’s current “assault weapons” law to ban the popular “bullet button” device. Bullet buttons are used on firearms to change magazines and are activated by a small tool or the tip of a bullet, hence its name. The device has been criticized by opponents, who call it a loophole in current state laws concerning magazine releases.
- SB 53: Require background checks on ammunition purchases.
- SB 374: A ban on rifles that can accept detachable magazines.
- SB 396: A ban on magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
- SB 567: Changes to the description of certain types of shotguns that would redefine them as assault weapons.
- SB 683: Require gun buyers to undergo a firearm safety course.
- SB 755: Additions to the number of criminal offenses that would prohibit gun ownership, including drug and alcohol abuse, harassment, and violating restraining orders.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) specifically stated that the new bills were a response to several recent tragedies in the past year, including the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.
Since the shooting occurred last December, the nation has been embroiled in debate over gun control. A large-scale campaign by President Obama and other Democrats led to the introduction of many gun control measures on federal and state levels. While the majority of the federal gun legislation failed, gun control proponents were able to score victories in key states. Colorado legislators surprised many when the gun-friendly state passed into law a package of strict gun control laws, prompting gun accessory manufacturers like Magpul to leave. Unlike Colorado, California has a long-standing reputation for tough gun control. Reuters reports that the timing of California’s recent gun bills are in response to the failures on a national level.
“The action is with the states,” said Steinberg. “In the absence of national policy, we feel that we have the responsibility to do something.”
Not all the state’s lawmakers feel the same way, and neither is the support for the bills strictly by party lines. On Wednesday the measures were largely opposed by Senate Republicans, but also several Democrats.
“Implied in [the right to own guns] is the right to buy the ammo to go with it,” said Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) after he voted against SB 53, which would require ammo buyers to pay a $50 fee to the Department of Justice along with undergoing a background check.
“We are criminalizing legal, historic behavior in the state of California and putting onerous burdens and regulations and requirements on law-abiding citizens,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber).
The bills are now headed to the Democrat-controlled Assembly for consideration.