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Governor Sorts Out Gun Control Legislation

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July 7, 2016

Governor Jerry Brown made his voice known in the ongoing gun control debate, signing six new gun-control measures into law including restrictions on assault rifles, adds background checks to ammunition purchases and bans the possession of ammunition magazines with more than 10 bullets.

These newly approved measure come on the heels of the re-sparked national gun-control debate following the terror attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The Governor also vetoed five bills, one of which would have expanded this year’s new law that uses restraining orders to remove guns from people classified as dangerous.

Prior to these new bills being enacted, California already had some of the strictest gun laws in the entire nation. According to the Governor’s office, the newly approved measures will “enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

The new laws:

  • Ban semiautomatic rifles that have “bullet buttons,” which allow for quick replacement of ammunition magazines.
  • Redefines the definition of “assault weapon.”
  • Requires identification and background checks to purchase ammunition in the State, and creates a new database of ammunition owners.
  • Ban the possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets at one time.
  • Restrict the ability of gun owners to lend or loan guns to close family members.
  • Expands the existing misdemeanor of making false gun theft reports and institutes a 10-year ban on owning firearms for those convicted of making a false report.

The vetoed proposals would have:

  • Put an initiative on the November ballot to make the theft of a firearm a felony.
  • Required those who make guns at home to register and obtain serial numbers for them.
  • Required lost or stolen guns to be reported to the authorities within five days.
  • Limited Californians to the purchase of one rifle or shotgun per month. 
  • Included unfinished firearm parts in the same definition as “firearm,” subjecting them each independently to current gun registration and purchasing laws.

Several leading Democrats disagreed on the combination of measures, resulting in an inter-party debate that the Governor settled by selected which bills to sign and which to veto.  Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, for instance, has already qualified a measure for the November ballot that would make firearm theft a felony in the State. 

The Governor vetoed the bill which would have done essentially the same thing, leaving the decisions up to voters in November.