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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Calif. Lawmaker Takes Aim at Gun Stockpiling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - Current and future gun owners in California could soon be limited to one firearm purchase per month under a gun-control bill introduced Tuesday.

The bill introduced by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, would place the same restrictions on long guns - rifles and shotguns - that are currently on handguns in order to prevent Californians from buying multiple guns at once.

Santiago says handguns and long guns "hold equal powers of destruction" and should be regulated the same to prevent Californians from stockpiling weapons.

"It is mind-boggling that a person - no matter their intentions - could purchase as many rifles or shotguns that they want at any given time," Santiago said in a statement. "This is a common-sense solution to gun violence in California."

The proposal follows a deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino in December and a Field Poll released last week finding bipartisan support among California voters for tighter gun controls. The poll found 57 percent of respondents feel it's more important to impose greater controls on gun ownership than it is to protect the right to own guns in the wake of the San Bernardino attack that killed 13 people.

Santiago says the bill is aimed at preventing gun hoarding and curbing illegal gun trafficking. More than 538,000 long guns were sold by California retailers in 2013 and half the illegal firearms recovered by law enforcement are long guns, according to the California Department of Justice.

While lawmakers passed a bill limiting residents' handgun purchases to one per month in 1999, limits on long gun purchases remain unchecked. According to the department's firearms database, Californians have bought more long guns than handguns over the last decade.

Santiago worked with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to craft Assembly Bill 1674. The groups said the bill won't "unduly burden law-abiding Californians," since they can still buy up to 12 guns per year under the proposal.

"We applaud Assemblymember Santiago for his leadership on this legislation that will make our communities safer while protecting the ability of law-abiding hunters and sport shooters to purchase long guns," Amanda Wilcox, legislative co-chair of the California Brady Campaign Chapters, said.

In a statement to Courthouse News, a National Rifle Association spokesperson said the bill doesn't prevent violence and instead restricts Californians from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

"Criminals do, always have and will continue to acquire their firearms through illegal means, so they can stockpile as many as they like regardless of what laws are in effect," NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said. "If policymakers were serious about reducing violence, they would focus on prosecuting gun crimes and keeping criminals off the streets."

More Democrat-sponsored gun-control proposals are likely as state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, also of Los Angeles, has said he's working on a package of new proposals with the state Assembly. Leon criticized Congress for failing to pass gun-control measures and giving in to the gun lobby following executive orders issued by President Barack Obama earlier this month.

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