California is on the verge of making some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the country even tougher six months after a shooting at a Florida high school left 17 dead and ignited a national debate about the influence of the gun lobby over politicians.
Lawmakers in the Golden State say they are heeding calls for stronger gun control laws from students in the wake of a massacre more than 3,000 miles away. Opponents of some of the bills, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Firearms Policy Coalition, say the measures infringe on the constitutional rights of Californians.
“We’re sending a message to Washington that we are listening to these young people who face the threat of death at school and the parents who are out there wondering whether to buy bullet-proof backpacks,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge.
Portantino’s bills would increase the age to buy all firearms to 21 and ban the sale of more than one gun in a month. Existing state law places these restrictions only on handgun sales.
Other proposals would prohibit gun ownership for anyone involuntarily committed to a facility twice in one year for a mental health disorder or for an individual who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. All of the bills face do-or-die votes in the Legislature before the session ends next week.
The ACLU is not against the bill that raises the age limit to purchase firearms, but does find problems with imposing restrictions based on mental health.
“This bill stigmatizes people with a history of mental health issues, and perpetuates the harmful and false stereotype that such people are inherently violent and dangerous,” the organization wrote in an opposition letter to the author’s office.
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a few proposals in a sweeping package of gun control bills the Legislature sent him in 2016. One of the bills limited someone to buying one firearm per month, which, Brown said “would have the effect of burdening lawful citizens who wish to sell certain firearms that they no longer need.”
He called another measure “premature” that would have allowed employers, co-workers and mental health and school workers to file petitions for gun violence restraining orders. A similar measure is on the Senate floor.
Here are five gun bills to watch before lawmakers adjourn on Aug. 31.
▪ SB 1100, by Portantino, raises the age to purchase all legal firearms from 18 to 21. Californians are already barred form purchasing handguns until age 21.
▪ SB 1177, also from Portantino, places new restrictions on gun purchases and bans anyone — with the exception of law enforcement and licensed gun dealers — from applying to buy more than one firearm in 30 days. Existing law prohibits anyone from applying to purchase more than one handgun in 30 days.
▪ AB 1968 by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, establishes a lifetime ban on gun ownership for anyone who is involuntarily admitted to a facility for a mental health disorder, and considered a danger to themselves or others, more than once in a year.
▪ AB 2888, introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows co-workers, employers, high schools and colleges to request a gun violence restraining order against employees or students who attended in the last six months. Currently only family members and law enforcement can pursue a gun violence restraining order against someone. If granted, the individual’s guns would be temporarily seized and they would be banned from purchasing new firearms.
▪ AB 3129 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, creates a lifetime ban on gun ownership for anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. The bill applies only to convictions on or after Jan. 1, 2019, and is not retroactive to prior misdemeanor offenses.
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