BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1964
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 9, 2014

                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

               AB 1964 (Dickinson) - As Introduced:  February 19, 2014 

          Policy Committee:                              Public  
          SafetyVote:  5-2

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No


          This bill applies unsafe handgun restrictions to single-shot  
          pistols that can be easily modified to semi-automatic weapons. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Minor nonreimbursable local costs for incarceration, offset to a  
          degree by increased fine revenue, to the extent the misdemeanor  
          penalty for selling or providing unsafe handguns is applied to  
          additional cases. 


          1)Rationale.  Current law provides that unsafe handguns, as  
            specified, may not be manufactured or sold in California. The  
            Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to maintain a roster  
            of unsafe handguns. According to the author, since the  
            enactment of the Unsafe Handgun law, the statute has been  
            amended to add exemptions to the prohibitions on buying and  
            selling these guns. One of the most significant loopholes in  
            the Unsafe Handgun law concerns single shot handguns. In  
            effect, a person may purchase a handgun manufactured or  
            altered to accept a single bullet (no semi-automatic reload of  
            a bullet in the firing chamber), even if the handgun is  
            considered by DOJ as unsafe.  

             The author states, "The single shot exemption undermines the  
            state Unsafe Handgun Law and results in an increasing number  
            of handguns being obtained that do not meet state safety  
            requirements. Buyers have learned that altering  a  
            semi-automatic handgun so that it becomes a single shot  


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            handgun can be easily undone, returning the weapon to its  
            original illegal configuration.  

             "AB 1964 will eliminate the exemption for single shot handguns  
            in the state Unsafe Handgun law. AB 1964 will halt the growing  
            trend of people buying and converting unsafe handguns to get  
            around state mandated safety features and/or safety test for  
            handguns sold in California."

           2)Unsafe handguns  . SB 15 (Polanco), Statutes of 1999, made it a  
            misdemeanor for any person to manufacture, import for sale,  
            offer for sale, give, or lend any unsafe handgun, as defined,  
            with certain specific exceptions.  SB 15 defined an unsafe  
            handgun as one that a) does not have a requisite safety  
            device; b) does not meet specified firing tests; and c) does  
            not meet a specified drop safety test.

           3)Support  . The CA Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
            Violence states, "Assembly Bill 1964 addresses an exploited  
            loophole in the Unsafe Handgun Act. Existing law allows for  
            the purchase of a semi-automatic handgun that is not on the  
            roster if the weapon was first modified to accept only a  
            single bullet. In practice, this has allowed dealers to modify  
            unsafe handguns to single shot weapons for the purpose of the  
            sale, after which they are readily converted back to  
            semiautomatic status. These actions completely negate the  
            intent of the Unsafe Handgun Act. This bill eliminates this  
            'single-shot exemption'.

            "The 'single-shot exemption' has been abused in recent years.  
            According to the Department of Justice, up until 2009, no more  
            than 1,100 single shot handguns were purchased each year.   
            However, beginning in 2010, the number of unsafe single shot  
            handguns purchased skyrocketed. In year 2013, more than 18,000  
            single shot handguns were purchase in California. Clearly,  
            dealers and buyers have found a blatant way to circumvent  
            California's safe handgun law and the newer safety  
            requirements such as the chamber load indicator or  
            microstamping technology.

           4)There is no registered opposition  .

           5)Prior Legislation  . AB 169 (Dickinson), 2013, contained the  
            provisions of this bill in a larger bill and was vetoed due to  
            the governor's concern regarding restricting private party  


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            off-roster sales to two per year, which is not in AB 1964. 

            The governor's veto stated that closing the single-shot  
            exemption loophole "makes sense."


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081