California Governor Vetoes New “Assault Weapon” Bill, Signs Lead Ammo Ban


California Governor Jerry Brown signed 11 of the 18 gun-related bills that landed on his desk on Friday.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed 11 of the 18 gun-related bills that landed on his desk on Friday.

California Governor Jerry Brown came to a decision regarding 18 firearm-related bills last Friday, October 11, including controversial proposals which called for a ban on all semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as well as the mandatory use of non-lead ammunition for hunting. Of the 18 bills, Governor Brown signed 11 and vetoed eight. Among those signed were bills that required owners of long guns to obtain safety certificates, outlaw magazine size conversion kits, and the lead ammo ban.

Gun rights advocates were elated when the governor shot down SB374, which would have re-defined all semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as banned “assault rifles.” The full list of signed and vetoed bills can be seen below.

Signed bills

  • AB 48 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): bans magazine conversion kits that increase capacity.
  • AB 170 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena): only individuals, as opposed to an organization or trust, may be given a permit for “assault weapons,” .50 BMG rifles, or machine guns.
  • AB 231 by Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco): “criminal storage” expanded to include a loaded firearm where children could easily access it.
  • AB 500 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco): increased time for background checks and further restrictions on safe storage in residences with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms.
  • AB 538 by Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento): firearm dealers must provide a record of sale to the purchaser.
  • AB 539 by Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento): a person who is prohibited from owning a firearm may transfer it to a firearms dealer for storage.
  • AB 711 by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood): bans the use of lead ammo for hunting.
  • AB 1131 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): extends the amount of time someone is prohibited from owning a firearm after being deemed a threat by a therapist.
  • SB 363 by Senator Roderick D. Wright (D-Los Angeles): “criminal storage” expanded to include a loaded firearm where it can be easily accessed by someone prohibited from owning firearms.
  • SB 683 by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego): long-gun owners must obtain safety certificates.
  • SB 127 by Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin): therapists whose patients make threats towards other individuals must notify the authorities of the possible danger.

Vetoed bills

  • AB 169 by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento): handguns that have not be tested or approved by the state would be subject to further restrictions.
  • AB 180 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda): a local proposal that would have given the city of Oakland an exemption from state laws so it can pass its own, stricter bills.
  • SB 299 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord): require gun owners to report a firearm theft or loss to authorities.
  • SB 374 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento): ban all semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines.
  • SB 475 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco): a local bill that asked for a ban on gun shows at the Cow Palace.
  • SB 567 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara): all shotguns with a revolving cylinder and rifled bore would be considered illegal.
  • SB 755 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis): widen the list of crimes that prohibit a person from owning firearms.

After the signing, Governor Brown wrote in a statement that he believed the mandatory use of non-lead ammunition would be beneficial to the state’s wildlife. However, he says he is able to sign the bill only because of certain amendments that will make the transition easier for hunters.

“I am concerned, however, the impression left from this bill is that hunters and sportsmen and women in California are not conservationists. I know that is not the case. Hunters and anglers are the original conservationists,” Brown wrote. “Since the 1930s, hunters have done more than any other community to conserve species and their habitats, and that is a lasting conservation legacy.”

The ban has been pushed back to July 2019, five years later than originally planned.

Brown decided against SB374 because he believed that the “assault weapons” bill would have no effect on reducing crime but instead outlaw a multitude of historic, recreational, and hunting rifles.

“The State of California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines,” Brown wrote in a veto statement. “While the author’s intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms.”

Gun rights groups are happy with the governor’s decision on SB374, although they say the victory is a meager one at best with the number of gun bills he did sign. Much like in Colorado, some gun owners are calling for the recalls of lawmakers who voted for SB374.

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