SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com/AP) — Democrats on a California legislative panel voted Tuesday to advance a dozen proposed gun-control measures already in the works before the Orlando nightclub mass shooting.
The bills were written in the wake of the San Bernardino terror attack.
Supporters of the measures said the massacre highlighted the urgency of tightening California gun laws that are already among the toughest in the nation.
“There’s no time to be lackadaisical on this issue,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. “Forty-nine people were massacred, were mowed down quite easily with high-powered weapons. So, it gives us more of a sense of urgency.”
The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved a ban on high-capacity magazines, which would require people to turn in or destroy magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets, in a party-line vote. Republicans opposed.
The committee also voted to ban rifles with devices known as “bullet buttons” that allow a user to quickly switch out magazines.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee voted to limit rifle purchases to one a month.
Gun-rights advocates say the Legislature’s crackdown would deprive California gun owners of their constitutional rights.
“What the Legislature did was take advantage of yet another tragedy in order to advance an agenda that harms citizens,” said Craig DeLuz, legislative advocate for the gun-rights group Firearms Policy Coalition. “Every time they seek to disarm citizens, they make victims out of them.”
State Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Compton, shot back at gun lobbyists, including the National Rifle Association.
“These are vicious people that are sitting here protecting these vicious murderers that are terrorizing our streets and making it very difficult for us to feel safe even at home,” Hall said.
“This bill would impose drastic and unjustified restrictions on law-abiding gun owners while doing nothing to reduce violent crime,” said Dan Reid of the National Rifle Association.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is promoting a November ballot measure that would enact many of the same policies the Legislature is considering.
De Leon prefers legislative action, fearing an initiative would motivate conservative voters and get defeated at the ballot box.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has been reluctant to create new criminal offenses and vetoed several gun-control bills in recent years.
In 1999, California outlawed the sale of new magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds but allowed people to keep any they already had.
SB1446, which has already cleared the Senate and was approved Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, would require people with grandfathered magazines to surrender, destroy or remove them from the state or risk a fine.
“It is very clear to me that when a person has to change magazines and cannot fire so many bullets so quickly, people have a chance to escape,” said Amanda Wilcox, a volunteer for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She said her daughter was killed by a shooter using a high-capacity magazine.
Other legislation advanced Tuesday would require background checks for ammunition purchases.
In addition, firearm owners would have to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement. Owners of homemade firearms would have to register the weapons and undergo a background check. Law enforcement officials must secure their handguns by locking them in vehicles.
But Florida law does not restrict the size of magazines that can be sold.
“Florida has one of the more lenient states for firearm purchases. There is no restriction on semiautomatic rifles other than federal law,” said Jeff Bregman, owner of American Gun Works in Glendale. “The amount of ammunition isn’t restricted. The size of the feeding device isn’t restricted.”
The Orlando nightclub mass shooter bought an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun on separate days from a federally licensed dealer near his home in Fort Pierce, Fla. Police have not disclosed the capacity of the magazines used.