Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown signs bill to restrict, register homemade guns

Weeks after splitting the difference on a sweeping package of new gun regulations, Gov. Jerry Brown has added one more bill to the pass column.

Brown on Friday announced that he had signed without comment Assembly Bill 857, requiring anyone who manufactures or assembles a homemade firearm to first apply for a unique serial number or other marking from the state Department of Justice, which must then be affixed to the weapon. The measure, by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, would also prohibit the sale or transfer of any self-assembled firearms.

AB 857, supported by gun control and law enforcement groups, is aimed at preventing people who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in California from simply making their own at home instead. Rapid advances in three-dimensional printing technology have made it substantially easier to manufacture crude guns out of plastic or metal.

In 2014, Brown vetoed a similar bill by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León.

“I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety,” he wrote at the time.

Opponents of AB 857, led by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights organizations, argued that the bill would infringe on a constitutionally protected right to assemble one’s own firearms by requiring government permission and would cost California hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to enforce.

In a statement, the Firearms Policy Coalition slammed Brown and warned that the law could be the spark to ignite a revolution against the state government.

“Today’s action by Governor Brown shows how craven California’s despotic ruling class has become,” President Brandon Combs said. “The Legislature has abandoned the Constitution, representative government, and the People of California. I fully expect the People to respond in kind.”

Late last month, lawmakers sent Brown a dozen measures to strengthen the state’s gun laws, already among the strictest in the nation. A day later Brown signed six of them, including bills to institute background checks on ammunition purchases and prohibit the possession of magazines capable of firing more than 10 rounds, and vetoed five, including one that would have mandated reporting the loss or theft of a firearm.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff