California Senate approves package of Democrat bills to combat gun violence

May 29, 2013

(Sacramento, CA) – In a full vote of the floor today, the California Senate approved a package of seven bills designed to combat gun violence in California. The seven bills authored by Senate Democrats compose the Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement (LIFE) Act, designed to close loopholes in existing regulations, keep the circulation of firearms and ammunition out of the hands of dangerous persons, and strengthen education on gun ownership.

The package of bills emerged from a joint public safety hearing in January this year, which studied gun violence and firearms laws in California. The LIFE Act bills now move to the State Assembly.

“As Congress continues to dither, California must act,” Steinberg said. “The strength of the LIFE Act is in the sum of its parts and this package will make dramatic strides in combating gun violence. In combination, these bills close legal loopholes that gun manufacturers have exploited, keep the circulation of firearms and ammunition out of dangerous hands, and improve education around safe gun ownership.”

The LIFE Act bills are supported by teachers, physicians, faith-based organizations, grassroots coalitions, some law enforcement and experts in gun violence. In April 2013, petitions containing more than 31,000 signatures were gathered by the coalition in support of the LIFE Act and given to Senators.

Rick Jacobs, Chair and Founder of CourageCampaign.org, who presented the petitions said, “California has a history of pioneering legislation to protect its people. The LIFE Act does just that, making dramatic strides in reducing gun violence and reclaiming California's standing as the national leader on gun safety. As Washington has continued to prove incapable of passing even incremental reform, California once again sets the pace for the country. We applaud the California State Senate, and State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for his support of these bills and his commitment to making California safer.”

Senator Loni Hancock (D – Oakland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and author of SB 396 said, “My bill is a common sense reform to reduce gun violence in California. California has good regulations, but gun manufacturers have found ways around them. This bill closes the loopholes that allowed the discharge of large amounts of ammunition without reloading and will make our state a safer place.”

Authoring a LIFE Act bill to regulate the sale of ammunition (SB 53), Senator Kevin de León said, “I’m proud that together with the California Police Chiefs Association, we’ve taken a significant step toward keeping ammunition out of the wrong hands—criminals and kids—to keep our communities safe.”

Senator Marty Block (D – San Diego), authoring a bill to strengthen education on gun ownership (SB 683) said, “Awareness of the safe handling of long guns is just as important as handguns. It makes no sense to require safety certificates only for buyers of handguns but not of those buying rifles or shotguns. Competency testing to make sure that buyers know how to handle and store weapons safely is essential to preventing unintended injuries or deaths.”

Senator Leland Yee (D – San Francisco), said “SB 47 and the LIFE Act will keep California’s gun laws strong and keep the people of California safe. I’m proud to be a part of this effort.”

CA Senate Democrats’ LIFE ACT:

REGULATION: Closing loopholes in existing laws

  1. Fixed magazines: SB 374 (Steinberg): Prohibits the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or transfer in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. This legislative action decisively closes the loopholes that have allowed the gun industry to flood our communities with rapid-reload battlefield weapons. Passed on a 23-15 vote.

    EXAMPLE: The featureless Mini-14 rifle, which contributed to the deaths of 69 people in the 2011 Norway massacre. This rapid-reloading firearm is currently legal in California.

  2. High Capacity magazines: SB 396 (Hancock): Bans possession of large capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. This legislative action unambiguously  closes loopholes that have allowed the gun industry to enable the assembly and home-modification of 10-round magazines into larger capacity magazines. Passed on a 25-14 vote.

    EXAMPLE: In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner was able to fire 31 bullets in 15 seconds because he had supersized his Glock 19 handgun with a high-capacity magazine. In those 15 seconds, he shot 19 people, killing six, wounding 13 others.

  3. Bullet button: SB 47 (Yee): This legislative action closes the loophole that has allowed the gun industry to flood our communities with modification tools to rapidly detach and replace magazines from semi-automatic rifles. Passed on a 23-15 vote.

  4. Shotgun Definition: SB 567 (Jackson):  This legislative action updates the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination. Passed on a 22-15 vote.

    EXAMPLE: The “circuit judge” with a rifled bore and revolving cylinder, capable of rapidly firing both 0.410 gauge shotgun shells and .45 caliber ammunition and has the same characteristics of the Street Sweeper shotgun.

CIRCULATION: Keeping weapons and ammunition in the hands of responsible gun owners

  1. Requires Ownership Record of all Guns: SB 374 (Steinberg): Expands ownership records, ensuring all handguns and long guns with detachable magazines are recorded. See vote count under item #1.

  2. Ammunition Purchase Permit: SB 53 (de Leon): Expanding on what various local jurisdictions are already doing, requiring anyone wishing to purchase ammunition in California to obtain a purchase permit first, by passing a complete background check. Passed on a 23-14 vote.

  3. APPS Expansion: SB 755 (Wolk): This legislative action expands the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) by adding additional drug and alcohol offenses. Passed on a 25-14 vote.

  4. APPS Enforcement: SB 140 (Leno/Steinberg): This legislative action authorizes the California Department of Justice  to use existing Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) funds to eliminate a backlog of unlawfully held firearms by 19,000 individuals on APPS. Signed into law by the Governor on May 1, 2013.

EDUCATION: Fostering a culture of responsible and informed gun ownership

  1. Fire arm safety certificate: SB 683 (Block): This legislative action expands the current handgun safety certificate to all new gun purchases, ensuring all new gun owners have a basic training and understanding of how their new firearm works. Passed on a 28-11 vote.

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