Senate plan would tighten gun laws
Senate Democrats unveiled a package of 10 legislative actions seeking to tighten firearm and ammunition regulations last week, triggering a response from firearm rights advocates and polictians.
"Everyone from national and local groups at this point is adamantly opposed to anything being passed. They feel its a political and knee jerk reaction," said Pat Kittle, owner of Kittle's Outdoor and Sport, who is a licensed firearms dealer in Colusa.
Federal and state firearm regulations have been under close examination since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in late 2012.
The package of proposed legislation would, in part, ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and make all high-capacity magazines illegal to possess in California.
The legislation would also require a background check for the purchase of ammunition and would require gun owners to earn a safety certificate for handguns, similar to the training required to carry a concealed weapon.
Willows gun dealer Jon Hays is not overly concerned about the proposed legislation.
The owner of Westside Outdoorsman said many of the revised laws are duplications of existing law in the state.
"I have not been paying too much attention to it," Hays said. "I wait until the DOJ sends me something on what has been passed and what's to be enforced."
He said the 10-round clip restriction on semi-automatic weapons is already in effect in California, and the state already has a 10-day waiting period on weapons purchases, so the additional background checks can be done at the same time.
It also requires firearm safety certificates for handgun owners, Hays said, so that is nothing new either.
"I am hoping very few of these laws will go into effect," Hays said.
Proponents of the legislation said they are aiming to close loopholes and make California a safer place for everyone.
"Loopholes in California's tough gun laws have been exploited long enough," said Senate President Darrell Steinberg. "We can save lives by curbing the proliferation of guns designed to be fired and reloaded rapidly. And if we can save lives, we must act to do so."
An example of one loophole is the assembly and home-modification of 10-round magazines into larger capacity magazines.
The importation, manufacture and sale of large capacity ammunition magazines was prohibited in 1999, the possession of high capacity magazines was not prohibited.
"At the Colusa Gun Show, vendors were selling extended magazines that were taken apart. It was a parts kit people could take home and assemble," said Kittle.
The proposed legislative action would ban possession of large capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds.
Kittle says that the cycle of closing loopholes will be endless because the gun industry will continue to find loopholes.
"If they are going to do this, regulators will have their jobs forever because there are endless loopholes," said Kittle.
Some changes to regulations may make Kittle's job easier by clarifying current law.
Recently, a California woman purchased a shotgun-rifle combination, called a "circuit judge" in Reno, Nev., and had the gun shipped to Kittle's for pick-up. Kittle was unsure of the legality of the weapon.
"I wasn't sure if it was legal so I called DOJ and was told they could not give a legal opinion. I sent it back. It's a bummer because I could be making money on it by selling it to a good citizen who passed their background check," said Kittle.
The proposed legislation would update the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination.
Firearm advocates see the proposed legislative package as political grandstanding.
Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, expressed criticism that Senate Democrats are taking advantage of a political opportunity.
"This isn't about public safety. It's about the majority party exploiting the tragedy at Sandy Hook. The bills they introduced won't solve the problem of gun violence," Logue said. "We need to punish the perpetrators, not the law-abiding citizens. What the Democrats are doing here is punishing everyone for the actions taken by a few."
While Logue is critical of politicians scapegoating firearms for violent attacks, he blames violence in the media and wants to see video games and movies take some of the heat.
"Hollywood actors want to limit gun regulations, but they're hypocrites. Hollywood should sit down and say this is a problem, we should solve it. There is a cause and affect and no one is trying to solve it," said Logue.
He is considering supporting a bill by Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin that would limit people with court defined mental health issues from obtaining firearms.
Current California law prevents anyone who has been judged by a court to be a danger to others due to a mental disorder or mental illness, or has been judged a mentally disordered sex offender, from owning or possessing a firearm.
However, they can later petition the court to approve them for possession. The bill would remove the right for individuals to petition the court.
Gov. Jerry Brown thinks the regulatory changes need to come at the federal level.
"California has the strictest gun regulations in the country as a state. The deficiencies that primarily exist, exist because of the federal government not asserting themselves to introduce the kind of common sense laws that California has," Brown said during his visit to the Colusa Farm Show last week.
10 proposed legislative actions on gun laws
1. Fixed magazines (Steinberg): Prohibits the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation or transfer in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. This legislative action aims to close the loopholes regarding rapid-reload battlefield weapons.
2. High capacity magazines (Hancock): Ban possession of large capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. This legislative action aims to close loopholes that have allow the assembly and home-modification of 10-round magazines into larger capacitymagazines.
3. Bullet button (Yee): Aims to close the loophole that has allowed modification tools to rapidly detach and replace magazines from semi-automatic rifles.
4. Shotgun definition (Jackson): Updates the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination, such as the "circuit judge" with a rifled bore and revolving cylinder.
5. Requires Ownership Record of all Guns (Steinberg): Applies ownership records consistently across-the-board, aiming to ensure all firearms are recorded, and ensuring that no firearms of any classification are legally accessible to prohibited persons or persons without a background check.
6. Ammunition Purchase Permit (De Leon): Requires anyone wishing to purchase ammunition in California to obtain a purchase permit first, by passing a full and complete background check.
7. Gun loans (Block): Prevents unregulated gun loans, with exceptions, including hunting. To limit legal accessibility of weapons to prohibited persons or persons without a background check.
8. APPS expansion (Leno): Prohibits individuals on Arms Prohibited Persons System from residing in a home with any weapons. Expand the APPS list by adding more than two DUls, other crimes.
9. APPS enforcement (Leno/Steinberg): Authorizes Department of Justice to use existing dealer records for sale funding to eliminate the 19,000 backlog of individuals on APPS.
10. Firearm safety certificate (Block): Establises a safety certificate for handguns, mirroring the training currently required annually to carry a concealed weapon.