The new rules ere signed into law on Friday by Governor Jerry
California already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the
United States. But proponents fought to amend the state's so-called
safe handgun requirements, arguing that it exempted for single-shot
pistols which meant dealers were selling thousands of modified
weapons per year without a required safety feature that indicates
when a bullet is chambered.
"This is a significant step to protect the integrity of the safe
handgun law in California," assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Democrat
who authored the bill, told Reuters. "This exception has been
increasingly used by those who wish to circumvent (the law)."
The bill comes amid a protracted national debate over the extent of
gun restrictions after a series of deadly rampages in schools, movie
theaters, and other public places.
The legislation drew swift criticism from the National Rifle
Association (NRA) and the California Association of Federal Firearms
Licensees (CAL-FFL), groups that say such laws trample
"Sadly, the status quo for elitist Sacramento politicians is to
ignore the Constitution and act with blatant hostility towards our
Second Amendment civil rights and sound public policy," said Brandon
Combs, president of the CAL-FFL.
The NRA has 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
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Under existing California 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, though they
are later reverted back, Dickinson said.
The loophole was created after single-shot weapons were exempted
from the safety requirement to protect collectors of antique guns,
Dickinson said, adding the new law strives to protect antique
single-shot weapons prized by collectors.
The new law ensures handguns must meet other safety measures, such
as firing tests, Dickinson said.
It preserves exceptions under specific requirements, such as a
single-shot pistol with a break top or bolt action, a barrel length
of at least six inches, among other requirements, according to
analysis on the state legislature's website.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Writing by Eric M.
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