A package of strict gun control laws were passed by California’s Assembly Committee on Public Safety earlier this week, which have already approved by the state’s Senate.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the package includes bills that would add all semiautomatic rifles with a detachable magazine to California’s list of banned weapons, a ban on all magazines holding more than 10 rounds, require long gun purchasers to take and pass a written test, and add to the list of offenses that would prohibit a person from owning firearms. The package also included several proposals to fix “loop holes” in California’s already strict gun policies. The foremost of these is a ban on the so-called “bullet buttons” or devices which allow magazine removal though the use of a tool, therefore no longer qualifying as a firearm with a detachable magazine.
“This entire package is not focused on trying to prohibit or limit law-abiding citizens from having guns,” said California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “It seeks to close loopholes that were never supposed to exist.”
Passing the Assembly Committee will move the bills closer to a signature by California Governor Jerry Brown. Governor Brown’s stance on gun control is a mixed one, having signed several gun control bills into law previously, yet vetoing others and supporting the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 2009 during his tenure as attorney general to challenge Chicago’s handgun ban in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The governor in the past has demonstrated independence,” said Larry Keane, Senior Vice President for the NRA. “He is not reflexively anti-gun and will listen to sound policy arguments.”
The bills are also receiving widespread criticism from gun rights advocates, especially concerning Senate Bill 374, the ban on semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines.
“My gun owners are blowing up my phones, saying ‘You can’t let this happen,'” recalled the Comittee’s vice chair Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore). “We can’t ban everything. This is about personal responsibility of human beings … not the weapons they are using.”
If passed into law SB 374 could have wide-ranging consequences for hunters and shooting enthusiasts who own modern sporting rifles.
“You’re looking at literally millions of guns,” Gerald Upholt, a lobbyist for the California Association of Firearms Retailers, told the San Jose Mercury News.
Hunters are also concerned over a bill that could ban traditional lead ammunition, a measure intended to safeguard the California condor. Some other states, such as Utah or Arizona, provide hunters with incentives to use non-lead ammo. An outright ban of traditional ammo is being viewed by many hunters as a ban on hunting itself.