BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair


          SB 374 (Steinberg) - Firearms: assault weapons.

          Amended: As Introduced          Policy Vote: Public Safety 5-2
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: Yes
          Hearing Date: May 6, 2013       Consultant: Jolie Onodera
          
          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.
          
          
          Bill Summary: SB 374 would tighten California's regulation of  
          "assault weapons," as follows:
               Amends the definition of a rifle considered an assault  
              weapon to specify "a semiautomatic, rimfire or centerfire  
              rifle that does not have a fixed magazine with the capacity  
              to accept 10 rounds or fewer, or a semiautomatic, centerfire  
              rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches. 
               Defines a "fixed magazine" as "an ammunition feeding  
              device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm  
              in such a manner that the device cannot be removed without  
              disassembly of the firearm action. 
               Defines a "detachable magazine" as "an ammunition feeding  
              device that can be removed readily from the firearm without  
              disassembly of the firearm action.
               Requires that a person who, between January 1, 2001, and  
              prior to January 1, 2014, lawfully possessed an assault  
              weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined,  
              including those weapons with an ammunition feeding device  
              that can be removed readily from the firearm with the use of  
              a tool, register the firearm by July 1, 2014, with the DOJ  
              as specified.
               Enacts provisions for a Firearm Ownership Record program,  
              as specified.

          Fiscal Impact: 
               One-time costs of $24.6 million (Special Fund*) over two  
              years for the DOJ to process firearm ownership records for  
              an estimated 5 million firearm owners in the state, as well  
              as process registration submittals for lawfully possessed  
              assault weapons over six months until July 2014.
               Annual ongoing processing costs of about $175,000 (Special  
              Fund*) to process 30,000 to 50,000 firearm ownership records  
              to be fully offset by transaction fees collected from  








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              registrants. 
               Unknown, increased annual state incarceration costs  
              potentially in the millions of dollars (General Fund). For  
              every 100 new felony convictions (both for  
              manufacturing/sale and possession), costs in the range of  
              $2.8 million to $6 million, compounding to $11.2 million to  
              $24 million for overlapping sentences.
               Increased annual local incarceration costs potentially in  
              the millions of dollars (Local) for various felony and  
              misdemeanor violations.
               Potential near-term loss of sales tax revenue of $1.6  
              million (General Fund) per 10 percent of annual rifle sales  
              in California. Future year impact could be somewhat  
              mitigated to the extent consumers shift to purchases of  
              alternative firearms.
              *Dealers' Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account
          
          Background: The enactment of the assault weapons ban in  
          California is described by the federal Court of Appeal from  
          Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), in part, as  
          follows: In response to a proliferation of shootings involving  
          semi-automatic weapons, the California Legislature passed the  
          Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act ("the AWCA") in 1989.  
          The immediate cause of the AWCA's enactment was a random  
          shooting earlier that year at the Cleveland Elementary School in  
          Stockton, California. An individual armed with an AK-47  
          semi-automatic weapon opened fire on the schoolyard, where three  
          hundred pupils were enjoying their morning recess. Five children  
          aged 6 to 9 were killed, and one teacher and 29 children were  
          wounded.
          
          The codified legislative findings and declarations of the AWCA  
          state, in part, "that the proliferation and use of assault  
          weapons poses a threat to the health, safety, and security of  
          all citizens of this state. The Legislature has restricted the  
          assault weapons specified in Section 30510 based upon finding  
          that each firearm has such a high rate of fire and capacity for  
          firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or  
          recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger  
          that it can be used to kill and injure human beings. It is the  
          intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to place  
          restrictions on the use of assault weapons and to establish a  
          registration and permit procedure for their lawful sale and  
          possession."








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          The AWCA was amended by SB 23 (Perata) Chapter 129/1999 to  
          expand the definition of an assault weapon to include a  
          definition based on its generic characteristics in addition to  
          one of several specified features. SB 23 was enacted in response  
          to the marketing of so-called "copycat" weapons - firearms that  
          were substantially similar to weapons on the prohibited list but  
          slightly different, perhaps only by the name of the weapon,  
          thereby circumventing the ban. The more general definition of an  
          assault weapon enacted under SB 23 was intended to remove the  
          allowance of such copycat weapons that the law previously  
          authorized by its definition of an assault weapon as only those  
          listed by specified make and model. 

          Under current law, a rifle is considered an assault weapon if it  
          is a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to  
          accept a detachable magazine and has at least one of several  
          specified features. In the absence of a definition of  
          "detachable magazine" in statute, regulations promulgated after  
          the enactment of SB 23 defined a detachable magazine as, "any  
          ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the  
          firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use  
          of a tool being required. A bullet or ammunition cartridge is  
          considered a tool." (11 CFR § 5469(a)) In response to this  
          definition, features such as the "bullet button" have been  
          developed by firearms manufacturers that enable easy detachment  
          of a magazine with the use of a "tool" and are thus not  
          classified as a "detachable magazine." As a result, firearms  
          with features such as the "bullet button" do not meet the  
          current definition of an assault weapon.

          This bill seeks to recast existing provisions and redefine the  
          types of semiautomatic rifles to be classified as assault  
          weapons by removing the current list of requisite features to be  
          considered an assault weapon, and instead, specifying that an  
          assault weapon is any semiautomatic rifle that does not have  
          particular features, specifically, semiautomatic, rimfire or  
          centerfire rifles that do not have a fixed magazine with the  
          capacity to accept 10 rounds or fewer. 

          Proposed Law: This bill would tighten the state's regulation of  
          "assault weapons" by amending and expanding the definition of a  
          rifle considered an assault weapon, and defining both "fixed  
          magazine" and "detachable magazine," as specified. In addition,  








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          this bill: 
               Requires that a person who, between January 1, 2001, and  
              prior to January 1, 2014, lawfully possessed an assault  
              weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined,  
              including those weapons with an ammunition feeding device  
              that can be removed readily from the firearm with the use of  
              a tool, register the firearm by July 1, 2014, with the DOJ  
              as specified.
               Authorizes the DOJ to charge a fee for the registration of  
              up to $20 per person but not to exceed the actual processing  
              costs of the DOJ. The fee, to be deposited in the DROS  
              account, may be adjusted at a rate not to exceed the  
              department's actual processing costs.
               Provides that on and after July 1, 2014, a Firearm  
              Ownership Record (FOR) shall be submitted to the DOJ for  
              every firearm an individual owns or possesses, with  
              exceptions, but including registered assault weapons,  
              handguns purchased prior to 1991, and rifles without  
              detachable magazines and shotguns purchased prior to 2014.
               Authorizes the DOJ to charge a fee of up to $19 per  
              transaction to reimburse the DOJ for the reasonable costs of  
              maintaining the FOR program. The fee, to be deposited in the  
              DROS account, may be adjusted annually as necessary to cover  
              the reasonable costs of administering the program.

          Related Legislation: This measure is part of the following  
          legislative package deemed the Lifesaving Intelligent Firearms  
          Enforcement (LIFE) Act: 

          SB 47 (Yee) 2013 would revise the definition of assault weapon  
          to include a firearm that has one of several specified features  
          and does not have a "fixed magazine" as defined. This bill would  
          require the registration of specified lawfully possessed assault  
          weapons that do not have a fixed magazine, as defined, with the  
          DOJ. This bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee.
          
          SB 53 (De Leon) 2013 would require the sale, purchase, and  
          transfer of ammunition to be subject to additional regulations,  
          as specified. This bill would 1) require ammunition purchasers  
          to obtain an ammunition purchase permit and complete a  
          background check prior to any transaction, and, 2) require DOJ  
          to maintain records of all ammunition vendor licenses and  
          purchase permits issued, as well as all ammunition sales. This  
          bill is scheduled to be heard today by this committee.








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          SB 140 (Leno) 2013 Chapter 2/2013, an urgency measure,  
          appropriates $24 million from the DROS Special Account to the  
          DOJ to address the backlog of unlawfully held firearms in the  
          Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). This bill was signed by  
          the Governor on May 1, 2013.

          SB 396 (Hancock) 2013 would ban the possession of large-capacity  
          ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and  
          would require the disposal of any large-capacity magazine, as  
          defined, in specified ways. This bill is scheduled to be heard  
          today by this committee.

          SB 567 (Jackson) 2013 would revise the definition of shotgun to  
          1) delete language stating that to be considered a shotgun, the  
          weapon must be intended to be fired from the shoulder, and 2)  
          add language stating a shotgun may include a weapon with a  
          rifled bore as well as a smooth bore.  This bill is scheduled to  
          be heard today by this committee.

          SB 683 (Block) 2013 would expand the current safety certificate  
          requirement on handguns to all firearms. This bill is scheduled  
          to be heard today by this committee.

          SB 755 (Wolk) 2013 expands the list of misdemeanors that result  
          in a 10-year prohibition from firearms possession to include  
          drug and alcohol-related offenses. This bill is scheduled to be  
          heard today by this committee.

          Staff Comments: Assuming approximately 5 million people would  
          submit an ownership record for 10 million firearms, costs to the  
          DOJ are estimated at $24.6 million (Special Fund) over a  
          two-year period for processing both Firearm Ownership Records as  
          well as registration over six months for legally owned assault  
          weapons prior to January 1, 2014. This estimate is based on the  
          assumption that 35 percent of American households possess  
          firearms. With approximately 13 million households in California  
          according to U.S. Census data, there could be 4.5 million people  
          required to register their firearms. To account for a potential  
          increase in firearm owners, this estimate has been increased to  
          5 million. After two years, annual processing costs are  
          estimated at $175,000 (Special Fund) to process 30,000-50,000  
          additional Firearm Ownership Records submitted per year.
           








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          The DOJ estimates the Bureau of Firearms (BOF) would require 129  
          two-year limited-term positions and two permanent positions for  
          a total of 131 positions to process the records and retroactive  
          assault weapon registrations. The 129 positions would process  
          registration and ammunition vendors, provide administrative  
          support, and Firearm Ownership Record registrations. The two  
          permanent positions would continue to process on-going Firearm  
          Ownership Records after the first two years.

          Under existing law, unlawful possession of an assault weapon is  
          an alternate felony-misdemeanor punishable as a felony by  
          imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, two or three years  
          (without a serious or violent prior felony), or as a misdemeanor  
          by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. Current law  
          also provides that any person who within the state imports,  
          manufactures, offers for sale, or who gives or lends any assault  
          weapon, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in  
          state prison for four, six, or eight years. By narrowing the  
          scope of firearms that are legal in the state, this bill expands  
          the scope of the aforementioned crimes.

          Arrest information from the DOJ indicates an increasing number  
          of violations of possession of an assault weapon since 2010,  
          with 825 arrests in 2012. Arrest data for felony violations for  
          the import, sale, manufacture, or loan of an assault weapon  
          reflect a decreasing trend, with 124 arrests in 2012. According  
          to the CDCR, 58 individuals in 2011 and 22 individuals in 2012  
          were committed to state prison specific to these crimes. 

          It is unknown how many persons will be convicted under the  
          expanded scope of these crimes, though it is assumed the  
          convictions could likely be highest in the near-term. For every  
          100 individuals (assuming convictions for both  
          manufacturing/sale and possession), increased state  
          incarceration costs could range from $2.8 million to $6 million  
          (General Fund) per year, compounding to $11.2 million to $24  
          million due to overlapping sentences (assuming the middle terms  
          of the 4, 6, 8 year triad for manufacturing and the 16 month, 2,  
          3 year triad for possession with a prior), based on the range of  
          potential costs to accommodate extended state prison sentences.  
          To the extent the number of individuals impacted is greater/less  
          or the average sentence imposed is longer/shorter than  
          estimated, annual costs would be impacted accordingly.









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          California's prison system continues to operate under federal  
          oversight as it addresses the issues of prison overcrowding and  
          constitutionally adequate health and mental health care in its  
          33 facilities. On April 11, 2013, the three-judge panel denied  
          the state's motion to vacate/modify the inmate population cap  
          and ordered the state to provide a list of proposed population  
          reduction measures within 21 days of the order (May 2, 2013). To  
          the extent this measure exacerbates prison overcrowding due to  
          lengthier prison terms, this bill creates future cost pressure  
          (General Fund) to potentially utilize additional contract beds,  
          out-of-state facilities, or capital outlay in order to comply  
          with the court-ordered population limit.

          To the extent the provisions of this bill have the effect of  
          reducing the number of semi-automatic rifles currently sold,  
          there would be an impact to both local and state sales tax  
          revenues. The Board of Equalization has indicated Californians  
          spend over $400 million annually on rifle purchases and over  
          300,000 rifles are sold each year. For every 10 percent  
          reduction in annual sales, state sales tax revenues are  
          estimated to drop by approximately $1.6 million (General Fund).  
          It is estimated that the impact is likely in the near term, with  
          the impact in future years projected to be somewhat mitigated to  
          the extent consumers shift to purchases of alternative and/or  
          newly developed firearms.

          To the extent the provisions of this bill serve to reduce the  
          incidence of firearms-related injuries and death, potential  
          future cost savings could be substantial. A study by the  
          non-profit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)  
          reported over 105,000 incidences of firearm injury and death in  
          2010 nationally, with an estimated societal cost of over $174  
          billion in work lost, medical care, insurance, criminal-justice  
          expenses and pain and suffering.  At a unit level, the study  
          reported a governmental cost of $187,000 to $582,000 per firearm  
          fatality in medical and mental health care, emergency services,  
          and administrative and criminal justice costs. The estimated  
          societal cost per firearm injury or fatality, including lost  
          work productivity and quality of life was reported at nearly  
          $430,000 to $5 million, respectively. 

          Recommended Amendments: As currently drafted, in order for a  
          rifle not to be classified as an assault weapon, a semiautomatic  
          rifle must "have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept 10  








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          rounds or fewer." To the extent it could be interpreted that a  
          semiautomatic rifle with a fixed magazine with the capacity to  
          accept more than 10 rounds could also fall outside the  
          definition of an assault weapon (as a 30-round fixed magazine  
          would also have the "capacity to accept 10 rounds or fewer"),  
          staff recommends the following amendment to clarify the  
          definition in PC § 30515(a), as follows:

           (1) A semiautomatic, rimfire or centerfire rifle that does not  
          have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept  no more than   
          10 rounds  or fewer  .