Gov. Brown Signs Stringent Gun Bills, Vetoes Others
Gov. Jerry Brown signed six stringent gun-control measures Friday that will require people to turn in high-capacity magazines and require background checks for ammunition sales, as California Democrats seek to strengthen gun laws that are already among the strictest in the nation.
Brown vetoed five other bills, including a requirement to register homemade firearms and report lost or stolen weapons to authorities.
The Democratic governor's action is consistent with his mixed record on gun control. Some of the bills enacted duplicate provisions of a ballot measure by Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that will appear on the November ballot.
One bill he vetoed would have asked voters to strengthen penalties for stealing a gun, because he said voters will already be deciding it through Newsom's initiative. Newsom's ballot measure also will ask voters to require reporting of lost and stolen firearms — an idea Brown rejected Friday and has rejected least twice before.
"I continue to believe that responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not; it is not likely that this bill would change that," he wrote in a veto message.
Gun control measures have long been popular with the Democratic lawmakers who control the California Senate and Assembly. But they stepped up their push this year following the December shooting in San Bernardino by a couple who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
The bills angered Republicans and gun-rights advocates who say Democrats are trampling on Second Amendment rights, creating new restrictions that won't cut off the flow of guns to people intent on using them for nefarious purposes.
The measures Brown signed will:
• Outlaw assault rifles with a feature known as a bullet button, which allows shooters to use a small tool to quickly change magazines
• Mandate background checks when a gun is loaned to someone other than a close relative of the owner
• Boost penalties for filing false reports of stolen guns, a measure targeting straw purchasers who buy weapons on behalf of people prohibited from doing so
• Create regulations for ammunition, including requirements that ammo sellers get a license and that purchases be screened
• Ban possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, requiring people who already own them to turn them in to authorities
He vetoed bills that would:
• Ask voters to stiffen penalties for stealing guns, which were inadvertently reduced when voters approved Proposition 47 that raised the threshold for a theft to be considered a felony
• Require registration of homemade firearms, which critics call "ghost guns" because they're not required to have serial numbers
• Expanded the types of people who can seek gun-violence restraining orders under a six-month-old program that allows courts to temporary revoke gun ownership rights of people suspected to be dangerous to themselves of others
• Require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to authorities within five days
• Restrict all firearm purchases to one per month, a limitation that currently applies only to handguns