October 12th, 2013

Semi-Auto Ban Vetoed in California, But Lead Ammo Ban Approved

governor jerry brown californiaWe have good news and bad news for California gun owners and hunters. The good news is that California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 374. The bad news is that Gov. Brown also signed AB 711 which bans the use of lead-containing ammunition for hunting. Gov. Brown surprised many people with his veto of SB 374, a sweeping ban on virtually all semi-automatic centerfire rifles with any kind of detachable magazine. Had it become law, SB 374 would have banned the sale and transfer of hundreds of rifle types, including many classic hunting rifles with 3- or 4-round flush-mount detachable magazines. In addition, SB 374 would have banned historic military rifles such as the M1 Garand, and M1 Carbine, which are prized by collectors and widely used in vintage rifle events and CMP shooting matches.

In his Veto Message, Gov. Brown stated:

I am returning Senate Bill 374 without my signature.

The State of California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

While the author’s intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future.

I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights.

Governor Brown Signs Eleven Bills Targeting Gun Owners
In addition to vetoing the expanded “assault weapons” ban, Brown vetoed six other bills relating to firearms: SB299, SB475, SB567, SB755, AB169, and AB180. Again, that sounds good. However, at the same time, Gov. Brown signed eleven other bills that will affect California gun owners:

    SB 171 – Patient threats must be reported by psychotherapists to police within one day.

    SB 363 – New penalties for storing loading guns where they may be improperly accessed.

    SB 683 – Requires long gun owners to obtain safety certificates.

    AB 48 – Bans magazine conversion kits increasing capacity.

    AB 170 – Disallows organizational permits for “assault weapons”, and .50 BMG.

    AB 231 – Criminalizes leaving a gun where child might use it without permission.

    AB 500 – Imposes further rules on gun storage; expands DOJ background check times.

    AB 558 – FFLs must provide Record of Sale to gun buyers.

    AB 539 – Permits disallowed persons to temporarily transfer guns to FFL.

    AB 711 – Bans lead ammunition for all hunting activities.

    AB 1131 – 5-year gun prohibition for people who have revealed threat to psychiatrist.

Bill Banning Use of Lead-Containing Ammunition for Hunting
AB 711, the lead ammunition ban, will create real problems for California hunters as it is “phased in” over the next few years. There are no lead-free bullets readily available for many cartridge/caliber types. Critics of AB 711 have called this “a ban on hunting disguised as an ammunition ban”.

Summary of Key Provisions of AB 711:
Existing California law requires that nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition be used when taking big game with a rifle or pistol, as defined by the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting regulations, and when taking coyote, within specified deer hunting zones, but excluding specific counties and areas.

This bill would instead require, as soon as is practicable, but by no later than July 1, 2019, the use of nonlead ammunition for the taking of all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, nongame birds, and nongame mammals, with any firearm. The bill would require the commission to certify, by regulation, nonlead ammunition for these purposes. The bill would require that these requirements be fully implemented statewide by no later than July 1, 2019.

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September 11th, 2013

California Legislators Approve Ban on All Self-Loading Centerfire Rifles with Detachable Magazines — Bill Goes to Governor

Yesterday (August 10th), the California Assembly, on a 44-31 vote, approved SB 374, which bans the sale (or transfer) of ALL semi-automatic centerfire rifles that can accept a detachable magazine of any kind (no matter what the capacity). Californians who possess such rifles would be required to register them with the State, for a fee, prior to January 1, 2015. Since SB 374 has already passed the California State Senate, this bill, after conforming amendments in the Senate, is expected to go to Governor Jerry Brown for signature within a few weeks.

Rem Remington 750 deer rifle SB 374 california assault weapon ban

The scope of SB 374 is sweeping. It bans all self-loading centerfire rifles capable of using a detachable magazine, regardless of magazine capacity (or placement). The operative language of SB 374 with respect to magazines is an awkward double-negative. But the intent is clear — if a semi-auto centerfire rifle can accept a detachable magazine AT ALL, it is banned:

SECTION 1. Section 30515 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
30515. (a) Notwithstanding Section 30510, “assault weapon” also means any of the following:
(1) A semiautomatic centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept no more than 10 rounds.

The way we interpret this, a semi-automatic with ANY kind of detachable magazine (even a one-rounder) would be banned. This would outlaw a wide variety of commonly-used hunting rifles fitted with flush-mounted 3-, and 4-round ‘pop-out’ magazines. This would outlaw the classic Remington 750 deer rifle, for example. It would outlaw M1 Garands which have an 8-round en bloc clip. And if you already own an M1 Garand, you would have to register it with the state government. (Under other legislation in the works in Sacramento, all ‘bullet button’ ARs would also be banned.)

Other observers read SB 374 the way we do — that it bans any and all centerfire rifles that can take a detachable magazine (of any capacity). Ammoland states that SB 374 will “eliminate the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation and possession of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. No more mini-14s, no more ARs, no more M1s, and say goodbye to your Remington 750 for deer hunting. [T]he goal is clear – if it is a rifle and has a detachable magazine, then forget about owning one.”

California Legislative Counsel’s Digest
SB 374, as amended, Steinberg. Firearms: assault weapons.

Existing law regulates the sale, carrying, and control of firearms, including assault weapons, and requires assault weapons to be registered with the Department of Justice. Violation of these provisions is a crime. Existing law defines a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and other specified features and a semiautomatic weapon that has a fixed magazine with a capacity to accept 10 or more rounds as an assault weapon.

This bill would, instead, classify a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept no more than 10 rounds as an assault weapon. The bill would require a person who, between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2013, inclusive, lawfully possessed an assault weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, including those weapons with an ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with the use of a tool, and who, on or after Januarry 1, 2014, possesses that firearm, to register the firearm by July 1, 2015. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

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