Calif. Senate OKs Sweeping Gun-Control Bill

     SACRAMENTO (CN) — In a rush to stifle a competing ballot initiative led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Senate approved a package of gun-control bills Thursday aimed at outlawing detachable magazines and regulating ammunition purchases.
     The sweeping firearm measures, including two by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, were heard and passed by lawmakers in succession during a contentious two-hour floor debate and despite vigorous Republican opposition.
     De Leon called the proposals, 11 in total, “common-sense” measures and urged the Democratic-led Senate to help prevent criminals from easily accessing homemade guns and ammunition.
     “We cannot stand by while our communities suffer from horrific violence,” De Leon said, noting that 30,000 Americans die each year from gun violence.
     De Leon’s proposals would force customers to show their driver’s license for all ammunition purchases and require homemade guns, or ghost guns, to be registered and given a serial number by the state.
     Under SB 1235, ammunition buyers would pay a 75-cent transaction fee and have their identification run through a state database to prove they aren’t prohibited from owning or buying a gun. The proposal is supported by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
     The bills were fast-tracked to Thursday’s Senate vote in order to address a sweeping initiative by Newsom that is likely to land on the November ballot. De Leon said it was important for the Legislature to address the issues raised in Newsom’s initiative, not California voters.
     “I commend Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for recognizing the need to address this problem,” De Leon said. “We’ve come up with a better approach that I believe is easier to implement, and actually less burdensome on firearm owners.”     
     The gun-control measures will move on to the Assembly for consideration thanks to the mostly party-line vote.
     On Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and other Democratic Assemblymembers said during a press conference that they are dedicated to pushing the collection of bills proposed in the Senate and Assembly to Gov. Jerry Brown.
     Republican Senators called the package “an assault on the Second Amendment,” and questioned the rush to bring the bills to vote. State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, accused the Democratic authors of circumventing the legislative process and derided them for reviving bills previously vetoed by Brown.
     “Was there an opportunity for the law-abiding public who care about these bills to come and testify? No,” Nielsen said. “That’s covert and the public ought to be rightly outraged at that alone.”
     De Leon responded to the fast-track accusations by claiming that the bills were only sped up by one week and that they were vetted and approved by a Senate committee.
     Included in the package are bills tightening restrictions on high capacity magazines and detachable magazines. State Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Compton, said Senate Bill 880 would redefine the state’s assault-weapons ban to include guns equipped with “bullet buttons.”
     Bullet buttons allow for the quick removal of magazines, and one of the San Bernardino terrorists used a gun equipped with a similar device.
     “They are designed only to facilitate the maximum destruction of human life,” Hall said.
     Several of the measures passed Thursday are opposed by firearm trade groups, most notably the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
     Republicans voted against 10 of the bills, and Nielsen and state Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, routinely berated the bills’ authors with constitutional concerns. The duo pointed out that California already has the nation’s strictest gun laws and that the restrictions have failed thus far to prevent gun violence.
     Stone said he’s received calls from both Republican and Democratic voters who are concerned that lawmakers are further attempting to “strangle the Second Amendment.”
     Along with firearm restrictions, lawmakers passed a bill creating a firearm violence research center at the University of California. Senate Bill 1006 passed 24-14 and would fund research on strategies to prevent further gun violence.
     State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, sponsored a measure that would outlaw possession of magazines holding more than 10 bullets, and pointed to polls showing the state’s growing concern over gun violence.
     “A recent Public Policy Institute of California survey found that 57 percent of Californians are worried about the threat of a mass shooting in their area. Some of California’s largest cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, have already acted and voted to ban high-capacity magazines, as I want to do with Senate Bill 1446,” Hancock said in a statement after the vote.

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