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Law abiding gun owners in California have to feel uneasy after Democrats rolled out a massive gun control package on Thursday, which includes strict ammunition regulations and even a bill that allows potential confiscation of the state's 166,000 legally registered semi-automatic rifles.
Under the sweeping gun control bills introduced by state Senate Democrats, all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines would be banned, all guns would be registered and gun owners would need a special permit just to buy ammunition.
The proposals appear to be even more draconian than New York's recent gun control legislation, considered to be the toughest in the nation.
Mercury News has more details:
The 10-bill package constitutes the single largest gun control push in decades in the Golden State, which already boasts some of the nation's strictest gun laws. It joins equally controversial proposals from Assembly Democrats that would regulate and tax ammunition sales and consider taking the state's 166,000 registered assault weapons from their owners.
This first unified California plan comes less than a month after New York adopted its own sweeping package of new gun controls and President Barack Obama announced a package of executive actions, all in the wake of December's Connecticut schoolhouse massacre. Even as this plan emerged Thursday, House Democrats' gun violence task force was announcing 15 "policy principles," including protecting Second Amendment rights but also instituting universal background checks and reinstating a federal assault weapons ban.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Thursday defended the huge gun control package, saying "California's tough gun laws have been exploited long enough." He also said he respects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to have firearms for hunting, sport and home defense.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, second from left, glances to a pair of semi-automatic rifles as he discusses a package of proposed gun control legislation at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Senate Democrats unveiled a package of 10 proposed laws designed to close loopholes in existing gun regulations, keep firearms and ammunition out of the hands of dangerous person and strengthen education relating to firearms and gun ownership. Also seen are Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, third from left, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, second from right. Credit: AP
That being said, he believes the sweeping gun regulations will "save lives."
"We can save lives by curbing the proliferation of guns designed to be fired and reloaded rapidly," he said. "We can save lives by getting guns and ammunition out of the hands of the wrong people. We can save lives if every gun owner knows how to safely handle those guns. And if we can save lives, we must act to do so."
However, pro-gun advocates argue that the bills are unconstitutional and infringe on the Second Amendment.
"[A]lmost every item in the proposal is wildly unconstitutional," said Gene Hoffman of Redwood City, co-founder and chairman of the Calguns Foundation gun rights group. He also said the state's overreach may "accelerate the speed at which the Supreme Court takes these ideas off the table."
Mercury News reports other bills would also include the following regulations:
- Require anyone wishing to buy ammunition to first get a permit by passing a background check, as Los Angeles and Sacramento already do.
- Update the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination.
- Prevent unregulated gun loans, with some exceptions, including hunting, in order to keep weapons from those who haven't passed background checks.
- Require all handgun owners obtain a safety certificate every year, rather than the every-five-years requirement for purchases of new handguns.
- Prohibit anyone barred from owning a weapon from living in a home where weapons are kept and to expand the list of crimes for which convictions result in being barred from gun possession.
- Let the state Justice Department use money from the state's Dealer's Record of Sale system to eliminate the backlog of people identified as no longer allowed to own guns but not yet investigated and contacted by law enforcement.
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)