Capitol Alert

You’ll only be able to buy one gun a month in California under new law

Californians will soon be limited to one gun per month, under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.

Senate Bill 61 from Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, builds on a 1999 state law that limited the purchase of handguns to one a month. Portantino’s proposal extends the restriction to long guns. It also prevents people younger than age 21 from obtaining firearms like semi-automatic centerfire rifles.

“Limiting bulk purchases of guns, in this case the type of high capacity weapons that are the gun of choice for many mass shootings, will keep these guns from falling under the radar and getting into the wrong hands,” Portantino said.

Newsom’s Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown, vetoed similar proposals in 2016, 2017 and 2018, writing in 2016 that such a law “would have the effect of burdening lawful citizens who wish to sell certain firearms that they no longer need.”

Newsom said he struggled to reach a decision, given how it could inhibit a person’s ability to buy multiple guns to go hunting with their family.

“This was one, internally, we struggled with,” Newsom said. “There’s a sense that if you feel like someone has a right to access something, you can restrict it but with certain limitations. We’ve done that with other types of weapons and used that model of one a month for those types of weapons, so my thinking was, ‘All right, this is at least consistent with previous established efforts.’ But it’s a legitimate and open-ended question of what’s that appropriate number.”

The California Rifle and Pistol Association believes California already has too many onerous regulations making it difficult for people to exercise their Second Amendment right to a firearm.

“You can expect us to fight this in court,” the group wrote on Facebook minutes after Newsom signed the law.

Data from the state’s Department of Justice shows that the majority of long gun purchases will not be impacted by SB 61. From January 2014 through June 2015 shows, nearly 82 percent of long guns were sold as a single long gun purchase.

Still, it would crack down on bulk purchases. In an analysis, the California Justice Department discovered one person purchased 177 long guns within a 30-day period in April 2014.

“These types of weapons are not used for hunting, and sadly, are having a horrible impact for too many innocent people,” Portantino said. “We need to get them off the streets and out of the hands of the wrong people.”

The 30-day prohibition begins July 1, 2021, under the new law. Police officers, state prisons, local jails, private security companies and movie studios would be exempt and still able to purchase multiple long guns in a given month.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.