Capitol Alert

New California gun restrictions clear Senate committee

A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at TDS Guns in Rocklin on Oct. 3, 2013.
A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at TDS Guns in Rocklin on Oct. 3, 2013. The Associated Press

A California Senate committee advanced five bills Tuesday that its authors say will keep more firearms out of the hands of those who are not allowed to possess them and help reduce the threat of mass shootings.

The proposals, several of which were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013, return to the Capitol a contentious issue that advocates also aim to highlight in this year’s election with a ballot measure backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

"After San Bernardino... People are fed up with the NRA," Gavin Newsom said during a meeting with The Sacramento Bee editorial board in February 2016.

“There is no silver bullet,” Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat and chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said. “Gun safety regulation seems to plugging one small loophole at a time.”

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Gun rights organizations expressed frustration that the new regulations would target weapons California once deemed reasonable, and testified that some would amount to unconstitutional bans and confiscations.

“People should be able to own any kind of gun they want to own in the United States of America,” Ed Worley of the National Rifle Association said.

Their arguments held little sway with the committee’s majority Democrats, who passed all five measures over the objections of Republicans. They head next to the Senate Appropriations Committee for fiscal consideration.

▪  Senate Bill 1407, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, would require anyone who assembles their own firearms to be licensed with the state and would prohibit the sale or transfer of those weapons. Brown vetoed a similar version.

▪  Senate Bill 1235, also by de León, writes a more explicit definition of ammunition. A law he previously championed to require in-person ammunition sales was thrown out in court for being too vague.

▪  Senate Bill 894, from Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, would institute a five-day deadline for owners to report lost or stolen firearms. She said it would cut down on activity by “straw purchasers,” who illegally acquire guns for people prohibited from owning them and often falsely claim they were lost or stolen if the weapons are recovered after use in a crime.

▪  Senate Bill 880, co-authored by Sens. Isadore Hall, D-Compton, and Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, expands California’s 1989 ban on assault weapons to include semi-automatic rifles with ammunition magazines that can be easily detached with the press of a button. Brown vetoed a similar version.

▪  Senate Bill 1446, by Hancock, forbids the possession of high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. California outlawed their manufacture and sale in 1999, but grandfathered in weapons that residents already owned. Brown has vetoed similar language in the past, and Newsom has included a version in the proposed ballot measure.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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