The National Rifle Association announced on Tuesday that the organization will be filing a legal challenge if California Governor Jerry Brown signs controversial gun control bill SB 374 into law. If passed, SB 374 would classify most semiautomatic rifles that accept a detachable magazine as “assault weapons,” thus banning their sale and limiting possession of these weapons to current owners with proper registration. Also headed to the governor’s desk are bills that would make improper gun storage a crime, limit handgun transactions, and ban the use of lead ammunition. The NRA called SB 374 the “worst of the lot” in a statement on their legislative issues site.
“[SB 374] would make unprecedented changes to California’s already unjust and byzantine ‘assault weapon’ law,” the organization wrote.
The bill is supported by gun control advocates to combat what are seen as “loopholes” in California’s current assault weapon laws. One of these is the popular “bullet button,” a device placed on a rifle releases the magazine only through the use of a tool. Previously, this meant that the firearm no longer qualified as a rifle with a detachable magazine. SB 374 was drafted with specific language to ban these types of devices.
Supporters of the gun control bills say that these types of restrictions will lower gun violence and crime. Opponents, however, say that not only will the new bills not make California safer, it will violate gun owners’ constitutional rights by banning a multitude of firearms.
“By banning millions of the most common hunting, sporting, and self-defense rifles in existence, SB 374 is in direct conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision,” the NRA release read. “In Heller, the Court made it clear that arms ‘typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes’ or those ‘in common use’ are constitutionally protected.”
Hunters are especially concerned with SB 374 and AB 711, the bill that mandates the use of non-lead ammo. If both bills are passed, not only would a large number of hunting rifles be banned from sale, but hunters will also be required to use nonlead ammunition. Many gun owners say this adds up to a de facto gun ban in California.