California lawmakers passed a dozen gun bills Wednesday that would tighten controls on ammunition purchases, ban semi-automatic rifles, and give a 15-day amnesty to illegal gun owners to hand over their guns.
The measures took initial steps and still need approval in both houses as well as Gov. Jerry Brown's signature. Democratic lawmakers cited the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown as motivation for tightening gun laws in one of the nation's strictest gun-control states.
Under a bill passed by the Senate, ammunition purchasers would have to submit personal information and a $50 fee for a background check by the state. The state Department of Justice would determine whether buyers have a criminal record, severe mental illness or a restraining order that would disqualify them from owning guns. Ammo shops would check the name on buyers' driver's licenses against a state list of qualified purchasers, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Senate also passed a bill outlawing the sale, purchase and manufacture of semiautomatic rifles that accommodate detachable magazines. SB 374 would also establish a registry for current owners of those weapons. The rifle ban goes beyond an assault weapons ban, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Federation told POLICE Magazine.
"There are various models of hunting rifles that have a detachable magazine that would be affected by this as well," said Michael Bazinet. "These restrictions seem well beyond what would make any kind of sense in improving public safety in California. The best way to decrease the criminal use of firearms is to concentrate on enforcing the existing laws."
The Assembly passed a measure requiring the state DOJ to notify local law enforcement agencies when someone buys more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition. That bill would also ban kits that convert magazines to carry more than 10 rounds and would extend a ban on gun ownership for anyone who conveys a serious threat of violence to a licensed psychotherapist, reports the Times.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved an amnesty program for thousands of illegal gun owners with criminal convictions, severe mental illness, arrest warrants or temporary restraining orders. Upon passage of the bill, owners would have 15 days to hand over the guns. State DOJ agents would confiscate the guns from those who don't hand them in.