Gun control advocates say thousands of weapons are sold in
California each year without a required safety feature that
indicates when a bullet is in the chamber, endangering children and
others who may be shot accidentally.
"Right now there is a very large opening in the law that permits
guns that otherwise we wouldn't consider safe for sale and purchase
in California," said Sacramento assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a
Democrat who authored the bill.
Under existing law, semi-automatic weapons must have an indicator
showing when there is a bullet in the chamber. But many
manufacturers do not include the feature, leading some dealers to
convert guns to single-shot weapons before selling them, just to
change them back later, Dickinson said.
The most populous U.S. state has some of the nation's strictest gun
control laws, and Dickinson's measure is the latest of dozens of
bills introduced in the state in the wake of mass shootings in 2012
in Colorado and Connecticut.
Last fall, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has tacked to the
center despite large Democratic majorities in the legislature,
vetoed several of the bills, rebuffing efforts by fellow Democrats
to enact a sweeping expansion of firearms regulation.
The proposed ban on converted semi-automatics without the safety
feature is a priority for the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence,
said the group's legislative expert, Amanda Wilcox.
The loophole was created after single-shot weapons were exempted
from the safety requirement to protect collectors of antique guns,
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After the rule went into effect in 2007, the number of guns being
sold as single-shot weapons in the state skyrocketed, which
Dickinson said indicated many were being converted.
In 2013, more than 18,000 single-shot gun sales were registered in
the state, up from 134 in 2007, the state says. But Assemblyman
Brian Jones, a San Diego-area Republican who voted against the bill,
said that doesn't mean all purchasers are trying to get around the
The National Rifle Association said the measure would hurt
law-abiding citizens by "eliminating the only options for
Californians to purchase numerous handguns that are commonly owned
throughout the rest of the country."
The bill passed the assembly 48-25, and goes to the state senate.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Cynthia Johnston and
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