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California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

Charlie T Waite

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On Thursday, both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees took up their suspense files prior to the fiscal deadline, passing a number of anti-gun bills and one pro-hunting bill. These bills will now be eligible for votes on the Assembly and Senate floor in their respective chambers. 

Assembly Appropriations Committee

Assembly Bill 2571, introduced by Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-16), bans advertising or marketing firearms or ammunition in a way that is “attractive to minors,” replacing the language in current law banning specifically “advertis[ing] to minors.” This vague term can potentially ban all firearm advertisements or activities involving firearms, such as hunting and hunter education. Though minors may not purchase firearms or ammunition from dealers under state and federal laws, many minors do use firearms for legitimate purposes under adult supervision and instruction, such as for hunting, competition shooting, and recreational shooting. Advertisements appealing to adult shooters and hunters also appeal to young shooters and hunters. While these young shooters and hunters are not buying firearms or ammunition themselves, their mentors do often include them in the process when shopping to teach them about selecting equipment that is safe and suitable.

Assembly Bill 1769, introduced by Assembly Member Steve Bennett (D-37), prohibits officers, employees, operators, lessees, or licensees of the 31st District Agricultural Association from entering into any agreement to allow for the sale of any firearm, firearm parts, or ammunition on property or buildings that comprise the Ventura County Fair and Event Center or properties in Ventura County and the City of Ventura that are owned, leased, operated, or occupied by the District. This imposes a one-size-fits-all restriction to prevent officials from deciding how to use venues. 

Assembly Bill 1621, introduced by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (D-65), expands what is considered a "precursor part" under existing law and requires serial numbers on those parts. Further, it expands the definition of “firearm” for purposes of criminal and regulatory penalties to include "precursor parts." And finally, it prohibits the possession, transfer, sale, or advertising of milling machines that have the sole or primary purpose of manufacturing firearms. Unfinished frames or receivers are not regulated as firearms under federal law; however, they are already regulated under state law and are limited to being transferred by licensed vendors in California. Such restrictions continue to cut off access to law-abiding individuals who are looking to acquire firearm parts in accordance with existing law and continue to discourage law-abiding hobbyists who like to build their own firearms, such as to suit their own needs, for the pursuit of the craft, or to explore emerging manufacturing techniques.

Assembly Bill 1594, introduced by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-19), creates a private right of action against firearm industry members for failure to implement "reasonable" controls. This intentionally vague term can subject the industry to crippling lawsuits regardless of whether there is any actual violation of law. The firearm industry is already highly regulated through federal and state laws, with violations carrying stiff penalties. This is the latest salvo in gun control advocates' long-running effort to circumvent the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which ensures Americans have reasonable access to firearms. The PLCAA does not prohibit lawsuits against the firearm industry for knowingly unlawful sales, for negligent entrustment, and on traditional products liability grounds.

Assembly Bill 2552, introduced by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-7), imposes additional restrictions upon gun shows, including requiring vendors to certify that they will not display, possess, or offer any unserialized or unfinished frames or receivers or any attachments or conversion kits that can convert handguns to short barreled rifles or “assault weapons.” Unfinished frames or receivers are not regulated as firearms under federal law; however, they are regulated under state law and are limited to being transferred by licensed vendors in California. Such restrictions continue to cut off access to law-abiding individuals who are looking to acquire firearm parts in accordance with existing law.

Assembly Bill 2156, introduced by Assembly Member Buffy Wicks (D-15), reduces the number of firearms a private citizen can manufacture in a year from 50 to no more than three. In addition, it prohibits private citizens from using 3D printing to make firearms, precursor parts, or magazines. This arbitrary ban on 3D printing only harasses law-abiding hobbyists who wish to explore this new and emerging manufacturing process. It does not impose a similar ban on legacy manufacturing methods, such as milling, stamping, casting, welding, or injection molding, all of which are proven methods for making reliable firearms. It is already illegal under federal and state law for prohibited persons, such as felons, to possess firearms, including ones they make themselves, regardless of manufacturing method.

Senate Appropriations Committee

Senate Bill 915, introduced by Senator Dave Min (D-37), bans state officers or employees, operators, lessees, or licensees from entering into any agreement to allow for the sale of any firearm, firearm precursor parts, or ammunition on property that is owned, leased, occupied, or operated by the state. This imposes a one-size-fits-all restriction upon all state-owned venues, to prevent their operators from deciding how to use them. In addition, this prevents tax-paying businesses from renting taxpayer-funded venues for lawful activities.

Senate Bill 1327, introduced by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-18), creates a private right of action that allows individuals to file civil suits against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, sells, or imports firearms banned in California, as well as precursor firearm parts. Current law allows for remedies for illegal activities by firearm dealers and manufacturers. The language contained in this bill, along with the rhetoric surrounding it, betrays the political purpose of its sponsors. The bill is aimed at using the gun issue as a political football, making clear that the legislation would become inoperative should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Texas's recently passed abortion law or if that law is repealed by the Texas Legislature.

Senate Bill 1384, introduced by Senator Dave Min (D-37), requires all licensed firearm dealers to have a digital video surveillance system meeting certain standards, to have general liability insurance coverage of at least one million dollars, and to require certain training for all employees annually. California’s firearm retailers are responsible businesses that are heavily regulated by the federal government and through complex California laws and regulations. This proposed legislation only serves to pile more unnecessary costs and regulatory mandates on them.

Senate Bill 865, a pro-hunting bill introduced by Senator Bill Dodd (D-3), increases the maximum eligible age for a reduced-fee junior hunting license from 16, to 18 years of age. Youth 18 and under were previously eligible to purchase reduced fee junior hunting licenses until 2020 when the law sunset. This will positively impact hunter recruitment and outreach by making it less expensive for 16-17 year-olds to try out hunting. Many of these teenagers will either become lifelong hunters or gain a new understanding of hunting and its importance, both of which will be valuable to maintain our hunting heritage into the future.

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