California tightens gun control laws,
expands assault weapons ban
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[July 02, 2016]
By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California
Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed a sweeping package of gun control
bills, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and expanding the
definition of prohibited assault weapons in the wake of mass shootings
in San Bernardino and Orlando.
Democrats in the legislature rushed the measures through in hopes
of passing them before their summer break, in part to try to
forestall a competing gun control proposal headed for the November
California already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the
nation, but after the shooting spree in the Southern California city
of San Bernardino last December, lawmakers began work on measures
they said would close unintended loopholes.
"My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by
tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner,
while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners," Brown said
in a signing measure.
It was a rare success for advocates of greater gun control.
U.S. lawmakers have fallen short in attempts to tighten gun laws
after the killing of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando last
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a
measure on Friday that would give authorities three days to prove
that someone on a terrorism watch list should not be allowed to
obtain a firearm. But Democrats rejected it as "toothless."
The bills signed by Brown ban so-called bullet buttons, which allow
quick changes in the magazine of a military-style weapon, and
require background checks for purchasers of ammunition.
Ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets at a time will
also be banned, and background checks will be needed for people
borrowing guns from non-family members.
Brown also vetoed several bills, including one that would have
allowed co-workers, educators and mental health professionals to
request restraining orders forbidding people deemed dangerous from
Gun rights advocates called bills a "Gunpocalypse."
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Weapons confiscated from last Wednesday's attack in San Bernardino,
California are shown in this San Bernardino County Sheriff
Department handout photo from their Twitter account released to
Reuters December 3, 2015. REUTERS/San Bernardino County Sheriffs
"The California Legislature showed their true faces today,” said
Craig DeLuz, spokesman for the Firearms Policy Coalition. “They
abused the legislative process to enact their depraved anti-civil
Their efforts spilled into intra-party politics as well, after
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is expected to run for
governor in 2018, gathered enough signatures to place his own gun
control referendum on the November ballot.
The move angered the state Senate's top Democrat, Kevin de Leon, who
had been working to pass many of the same measures through the
Worried in part that Newsom's initiative would boost turnout in
November among Republicans who oppose gun control, legislative
Democrats rushed to pass their bills in time for Newsom to withdraw
But the lieutenant governor refused.
"Today’s steps in the right direction will grow into a giant leap
forward for public safety if voters pass the Safety for All
initiative to keep guns and ammo out of the wrong hands," he said.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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