SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com/AP) — The California Senate has approved a wide-ranging series of gun-control measures that would outlaw assault rifles with easily detachable magazines and require people to give up magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
The 11 measures approved Thursday would significantly tighten California’s gun laws, which are already among the strictest in the nation.
The debate comes as Democratic leaders rush to head off a gun-control ballot measure advocated by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. They say the Legislature can more effectively craft gun legislation, and some Democrats also worry the initiative would motivate gun-rights supporters in the November election.
Lawmakers sent the package of legislation to the state Assembly.
The Senate vote comes as Newsom, a Democrat running for governor in 2018, is advocating a November gun control ballot measure. Some Democrats worry the initiative will fire up gun rights supporters, potentially increasing turnout of conservative voters.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, wrote to Newsom last month asking him to hold off on his initiative and allow lawmakers to tackle the problem. He declined.
On Thursday evening, KCAL9’s Erica Nochlin spoke to people on both sides of the issue.
Tony Chavez owns a semiautomatic rifle with what’s known as a “bullet button.”
The button allows him to use a small tool, like a screwdriver, to quickly reload the magazine.
“I pull out the magazine,” he says, “that takes, I don’t know … 5-6 seconds.”
The kind of rifle he’s using and the bullet button would be outlawed in California if the measures pass. And he’s not happy about it.
“That’s horrible. We already one of the strictest gun states in the nation. It has no effect on crime whatsoever,” Chavez says.
The proposed new laws stem from outrage over the San Bernardino terror attacks this past December. The two rifles recovered after the assault were both equipped with the bullet buttons.
Gun-control opponent Eric Liu doesn’t think the law makes sense.
“If bad guys want the guns, they’re going to get them, legally,” he says.
But gun-control advocate Noelle Crochet says it’s time to do something. For her, enough is enough.
“At a shooting range,” she says, “you have no need to quickly change the ammunition. And if that gun were to get stolen, you’ be putting a lot of people in danger.”
Crochet has a friend who lost a loved one in the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
The assembly is also considering requiring background checks to purchase ammunition.
“I would feel safer knowing those safeguards are in place,” she says.
“And why not. You should go through that extra step,” said one man.
The steps might not stop there. The Senate also approved bills requiring the registration of homemade guns, requiring owners to report stolen or lost guns, a ban on loaning firearms to friends and the funding for a gun-violence research center.
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