California lawmakers delivered a host of firearm control bills to Governor Jerry Brown's desk Thursday, 11 in all, whichamount to some of the most sweeping legislation limiting gun sales and banning certain types of weapons. Brown was set to leave on vacation Friday and was planning to review the bills before his departure, as Sacramento's ABC 10 reports.
The LA Times describes the legislation, all passed at breakneck speed, as "unprecedented."
The reforms include an ID and background check requirement for purchasing ammunition, a ban on high-capacity magazines with over 10 bullets, a new restriction on loaning guns without background checks, and a law that requires the reporting of stolen guns within five days.
Capital Public Radio reports Friday that Brown signed six of the bills and vetoed five, saying "My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners." A twelfth bill never made it to Brown's desk.
Among the bills vetoed were an expansion of gun violence restraining orders, and one that would have limited gun purchases to one per person, per month.
The legislature was hoping that Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom will drop a ballot measure he has on the November ballot that duplicates much of what's accomplished in these bills. But
Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler says that Newsom isn't likely to withdraw his measure.
Per Cap Radio, here's what was signed and vetoed.
Ammo sales (SB 1235): Ammunition sellers would need licenses and buyers would be entered into a state database for background checks, under this bill. Supporters say ammunition sales are essentially unregulated, and this measures will fix that. Opponents argue it will add bureaucracy and cost, but won’t reduce violent crime, because criminals will buy ammo on the black market. SIGNED.
Ban possession of high-capacity magazines (SB 1446): Owners of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds would have to sell them out of state or to licensed firearms dealers, turn them over to police, or destroy them within a year. The state already bans the sale of these magazines, but supporters of the bill say they remain too prevalent and easy for criminals to obtain. Opponents say these types of magazines are used for sport shooting. The bill exempts retired law enforcement officers from the ban. SIGNED.
Bullet button ban (SB 880/AB 1135): California already bans the sale of rifles that have detachable magazines—where pushing a button with a finger can dislodge the weapon’s magazine. Gun manufacturers have instead added “bullet buttons,” which still allow the magazine to slide out, but require the tip of a bullet or another pointed object to access it. The bill includes weapons with “bullet buttons” in the detachable magazine ban. SIGNED BOTH.
One gun purchase per month (AB 1674): The bill allows the purchase in California of no more than one rifle each month. The state has a similar law currently on the books for handguns, but private sales or transfers of handguns do not count against the one per month limit. The bill removes that exemption, but allows more than one purchase of a firearm at charity auctions or as a bequest when the previous owner has died. VETOED. In his veto message, the governor noted that California already limits handgun purchases to one per person, per month. "I believe this bill would have the effect of burdening lawful citizens who wish to sell certain firearms that they no longer need," Brown wrote. "Given California's stringent laws restricting gun ownership, I do not believe this additional restriction is needed."
Guns with some assembly required (AB 857/AB 1673): Buying a gun in California requires a background check, but buying a gun’s parts does not. The bill defines a gun’s frame or casting as a firearm, so their purchase would require the same steps as purchasing a completed gun. The frame would have to have a registration number and the purchaser would need to undergo a background check. Opponents say the change could lead to unintended consequences, such as arrests for openly carrying a disassembled part of a weapon. The governor VETOED AB 1673. The Assembly did not send him AB 857, so Brown took no action on that bill.
Gun restraining orders (AB 2607): Family members and police can already ask a court for a restraining order that prevents a person from owning a gun. The bill would add co-workers. Courts have to hold a hearing about the restraining order within three weeks. Supporters say employees who work together may see the warning signs for violence, and the bill would give them the opportunity to act. Opponents say those people can already go to law enforcement to ask them to seek a restraining order. VETOED. In his veto message, the governor noted that while he signed legislation creating gun violence restraining orders, the law only took effect this year and it "would be premature to enact a further expansion."
Failure to report lost or stolen guns (SB 894): Falsely reporting a gun lost or stolen would be a misdemeanor with harsh consequences (as mentioned above), but so would not reporting a weapon that has actually been stolen. This bill would fine gun owners who do not report their weapons stolen or lost within five days of when they know or “reasonably should have known.” The first fine would be $100, a second offense $1,000, and a third offense would be a misdemeanor with fines and possible jail time. The Senate has to vote one more time to concur on the bill. VETOED. In his veto message, the governor wrote that he had vetoed similiar measures in 2012 and 2013. "I continue to believe that responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not," Brown wrote, adding "it is not likely that this bill would change that."
Punishment for theft (AB 1176): Proposition 47 turned theft of items under $950 into a misdemeanor, and that includes guns. The measure would make theft of a firearm a felony and purchasing a stolen firearm a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Both offenses would also prohibit the person convicted from buying a gun for 10 years. Because the bill would change a voter-approved initiative, it has to, itself, receive voter approval. If Governor Brown signs the bill, it will appear on the November ballot. VETOED. In his veto statement, the governor wrote the bill is "nearly identical" to an initiative already slated for the November ballot and should only appear before voters once.