BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  AB 1135
          Author:   Levine (D) and Ting (D), et al.
          Amended:  5/11/16 in Senate
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  5-2, 5/10/16
           AYES:  Hancock, Glazer, Leno, Liu, Monning
           NOES:  Anderson, Stone

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  5-2, 5/16/16
           AYES:  Lara, Beall, Hill, McGuire, Mendoza
           NOES:  Bates, Nielsen

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  Not relevant 

           SUBJECT:   Firearms: assault weapons


          SOURCE:    Author
          
          DIGEST:   This bill (1) amends the definition of assault weapon  
          to refer to a firearm that has one of several specified  
          military-style features and does not have a "fixed magazine"  
          rather than a firearm that has one of those features and "has  
          the capacity to accept a detachable magazine;" (2) defines  
          "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;" (3) provides that any person who was eligible to  
          register an assault weapon and lawfully possessed such a weapon  
          prior to January 1, 2017, will be exempt from penalties, if the  
          person registers the weapon by January 1, 2018; (4) requires  
          that any person who from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2016,  
          lawfully possessed an assault weapon that does not have a fixed  
          magazine, as defined, register the firearm before January 1,  








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          2018, with the Department of Justice (DOJ), as specified; (5)  
          provides that this registration be submitted online, as  
          specified; (6) authorizes DOJ to charge a fee of up to $15 per  
          person but not to exceed the reasonable processing costs of the  
          department for this registration; and (7) requires DOJ to  
          establish procedures for the purpose of carrying out this  
          registration requirement and to specify that these procedures  
          shall be exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act.



          ANALYSIS:  



          Existing law: 

          1)Contains legislative findings and declarations that the  
            proliferation and use of assault and .50 BMG rifles poses a  
            threat to the health, safety, and security of all citizens of  
            California.  (Penal Code  30505.)

          2)States legislative intent to place restrictions on the use of  
            assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles and to establish a  
            registration and permit procedure for their lawful sale and  
            possession.  (Penal Code  30505.)

          3)Defines "assault weapon" as one of certain specified rifles  
            and pistols (Penal Code  30510) or as:

             a)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity  
               to accept a detachable magazine and has at least one of the  
               following: a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously  
               beneath the action of the weapon; a thumbhole stock; a  
               vertical handgrip; a folding or telescoping stock; a  
               grenade launcher or flare launcher; a flash suppressor; or,  
               a forward handgrip.

             b)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed  
               magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;

             c)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall  








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               length of less than 30 inches; 

             d)   A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine and has at least one of the following:  
               a threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor,  
               forward handgrip, or silencer; a second handgrip; a shroud  
               that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles,  
               the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon  
               without burning his or her hand, excepting a slide that  
               encloses the barrel; or, the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol  
               grip.

             e)   A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has  
               the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;

             f)   A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:  
               a folding or telescoping stock; and a pistol grip that  
               protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon,  
               thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip.

             g)   A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a  
               detachable magazine; and

             h)   Any shotgun that has a revolving cylinder.  (Penal Code  
                30515.)

          4)Defines 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.  Ammunition feeding device includes any  
            belted or linked ammunition, but does not include clips, en  
            bloc clips, or stripper clips that load cartridges into the  
            magazine.  (11 Cal. Code of Regs.  5469.)

          5)Provides that unlawful possession of an assault weapon is an  
            alternate felony-misdemeanor and shall be punished by  
            imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one  
            year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of  
            Section 1170 (16 months, two or three years).  Notwithstanding  
            the above, a first violation of these provisions is punishable  








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            by a fine not exceeding $500 if the person was found in  
            possession of no more than two firearms and certain specified  
            conditions are met.  (Penal Code  30605.)

          6)Provides that any person who within California manufactures,  
            imports into California, offers for sale, or who gives or  
            lends any assault weapon with specified exceptions is guilty  
            of a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for  
            four, six, or eight years.  (Penal Code  30600.)

          7)Defines a ".50 BMG rifle and cartridge," as specified.  (Penal  
            Code  30525, 30530.)

          8)Exempts the DOJ, law enforcement agencies, military forces,  
            and other specified agencies from the prohibition against  
            sales to, purchase by, importation of, or possession of  
            assault weapons or .50 BMG rifles.  (Penal Code  30625.)

          9)Requires that any person who lawfully possesses an assault  
            weapon, as specified, must register the firearm with DOJ, as  
            specified.  (Penal Code  30900 et. seq.)

          This bill: 

          1)Amends the definition of assault weapon to refer to a firearm  
            that has one of several specified features and does not have a  
            "fixed magazine" rather than a firearm with one of those  
            features and the "capacity to accept a detachable magazine." 

          2)Defines "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."

          3)Provides that, notwithstanding the new definition of assault  
            weapon contained in this bill, any person who possessed an  
            assault weapon prior to January 1, 2017, is exempt from  
            punishment pursuant to Section 30605, if all of the following  
            are applicable:

             a)   Prior to January 1, 2017, the person was eligible to  
               register that assault weapon pursuant to subdivision (c) of  








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               Section 30900;

             b)   The person lawfully possessed that assault weapon on  
               January 1, 2017; and

             c)   The person registers the assault weapon by January 1,  
               2018, as specified.

          4)Provides that any person who, from January 1, 2001, to  
            December 31, 2016, inclusive, lawfully possessed an assault  
            weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined in  
            Section 30515, including those weapons with an ammunition  
            feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm  
            with the use of a tool, shall register the firearm before  
            January 1, 2018, with the department pursuant to those  
            procedures that the department may establish.

             a)   Registrations shall be submitted electronically via the  
               Internet utilizing a public-facing application made  
               available by the department.

             b)   The registration shall contain a description of the  
               firearm that identifies it uniquely, including all  
               identification marks, the date the firearm was acquired,  
               the name and address of the individual from whom, or  
               business from which, the firearm was acquired, as well as  
               the registrant's full name, address, telephone number, date  
               of birth, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and  
               California driver's license number or California  
               identification card number.

             c)   The department may charge a fee of up to $15 per person  
               but not to exceed the reasonable processing costs of the  
               department.  The fee shall be paid by debit or credit card  
               at the time that the electronic registration is submitted  
               to the department.  The fee shall be deposited in the  
               Dealers' Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account.

             d)   The department shall establish procedures for the  
               purpose of carrying out this subdivision.  These procedures  
               shall be exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act.









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          Background

          As the Court of Appeal explained, in 1999, the Assault Weapons  
          ban was amended to expand the definition of an assault weapon to  
          include a definition by the generic characteristics,  
          specifically, to include a "semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that  
          has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine" in addition to  
          one of several specified characteristics, such as a grenade  
          launcher or flash suppressor.  (SB 23 (Perata, Chapter 129,  
          Statutes of 1999,  7 et seq.)  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  
          differed in some insignificant way, perhaps only the name of the  
          weapon, thereby defeating the intent of the ban.  "SB 23 takes  
          weapons that are made, then modified, named and re-named off the  
          market.  It fixes the loophole in current law that bans guns by  
          name, not by capability, by providing a generic definition of  
          the weapons."  (Committee analysis of SB 23 (Perata), Assembly  
          Public Safety Committee.) 

          SB 23's generic definition of an assault weapon was intended to  
          close the loophole in the law created by its definition of  
          assault weapons as only those specified by make and model.   
          Regulations promulgated after the enactment of SB 23 define 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, a new feature has  
          been developed by firearms manufacturers to make semi-automatic  
          rifles "California compliant," the bullet button.

          In 2012, researchers at the nonprofit Violence Policy Center in  
          Washington, D.C. released a paper describing the phenomenon of  
          the bullet button and its effect on California's assault weapons  
          ban:

            The "Bullet Button"-Assault Weapon Manufacturers' Gateway  
            to the California Market

            Catalogs and websites from America's leading assault  
            rifle manufacturers are full of newly designed  








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            "California compliant" assault weapons.  Number one and  
            two assault weapon manufacturers Bushmaster and DPMS,  
            joined by ArmaLite, Colt, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and  
            others are all introducing new rifles designed to  
            circumvent California's assault weapons ban and are  
            actively targeting the state in an effort to lift  
            now-sagging sales of this class of weapon.  They are  
            accomplishing this with the addition of a minor design  
            change to their military-style weapons made possible by a  
            definitional loophole: the "bullet button."  [Please see  
            the Appendix beginning on page six for 2012 catalog copy  
            featuring "California compliant" assault rifles utilizing  
            a "bullet button" from leading assault weapon  
            manufacturers.]

            California law bans semiautomatic rifles with the  
            capacity to accept a detachable ammunition magazine and  
            any one of six enumerated additional assault weapon  
            characteristics (e.g., folding stock, flash suppressor,  
            pistol grip, or other military-style features). 

            High-capacity detachable ammunition magazines allow  
            shooters to expel large amounts of ammunition quickly and  
            have no sporting purpose.  [Department of the Treasury  
            Study on the Sporting Suitability of Modified  
            Semiautomatic Assault Rifles, April 1998.  (Bullet  
            Buttons, The Gun Industry's Attack on California's  
            Assault Weapons Ban, Violence Policy Center, Washington  
            D.C., May 2012.)]   However, in California an ammunition  
            magazine is not viewed as detachable if a "tool" is  
            required to remove it from the weapon.  The "bullet  
            button" is a release button for the ammunition magazine  
            that can be activated with the tip of a bullet.  With the  
            tip of the bullet replacing the use of a finger in  
            activating the release, the button can be pushed and the  
            detachable ammunition magazine removed and replaced in  
            seconds.  Compared to the release process for a standard  
            detachable ammunition magazine it is a distinction  
            without a difference.

          This bill amends the definition of assault weapon to a firearm  
          that has one of several specified features and does not have a  








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          "fixed magazine," rather than a firearm that has one of those  
          features and "has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine."  
           It also defines, "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."  So, a semiautomatic rifle  
          could have a detachable magazine, as long as it does not also  
          have any features or it could have the features as long as it  
          had a fixed magazine.  The purpose of this change is to clarify  
          that equipping a weapon with a "bullet button" magazine release  
          does not take that weapon outside the definition of an assault  
          weapon. 

          This bill also requires any person who, from January 1, 2001, to  
          December 31, 2016, 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, in other words,  
          those weapons with a "bullet button" magazine release, to  
          register the firearm before January 1, 2018, with the department  
          pursuant to those procedures that the department may establish.   
          Because this bill clarifies that these are assault weapons, this  
          provision is consistent with the existing law that requires  
          assault weapons, lawfully possessed, to be registered with DOJ. 


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   Yes


          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Registration process:  Estimated costs of $1.7 million in FY  
            2016-17, $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and $37,000 (DROS  
            Fund*/General Fund) annually thereafter, to be fully offset by  
            fees collected from registrants once fully implemented.  
            Appropriations staff notes the DROS Fund is structurally  
            imbalanced, and current revenues are insufficient to cover the  
            costs of this bill. As a result, a General Fund appropriation  
            may be required to enable completion of the activities within  
            the timelines prescribed. 









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           State prisons:  Potentially significant increase in annual  
            state incarceration costs (General Fund) to the extent the  
            narrower definition of "assault weapon" results in additional  
            firearms violations. For every 10 new commitments to state  
            prison (five each for manufacturing and possession),  
            additional annual costs of $290,000, compounding to $1.2  
            million for overlapping sentences assuming the middle term of  
            the triads for violations of both manufacturing and  
            possession.

           Firearms sales:  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.

           Local agencies:  Potential future increase in local  
            enforcement and incarceration costs for unlawful possession or  
            sale/manufacture of assault weapons.

           APPS [Armed Prohibited Persons System] enforcement:  Unknown,  
            potential increase in DOJ enforcement costs (Special Fund*) to  
            the extent additional persons are placed on the armed  
            prohibited persons list resulting from the provisions of this  
            bill.

          * DROS Special Account - Appropriations staff notes that the  
            DROS Account is structurally imbalanced, with an estimated  
            reserve balance of less than $1 million by year-end FY  
            2016-17. As a result, an appropriation from another fund  
            source, potentially the General Fund, may be required to  
            support the activities required by this bill.


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/17/16)


          California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
                    Violence
          Coalition Against Gun Violence, a Santa Barbara County Coalition
          Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence









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          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/17/16)


          California Sportsman's Lobby
          California State Sheriffs' Association
          Crossroads of the West
          Firearms Policy Coalition
          National Rifle Association
          National Shooting Sports Foundation
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
          Safari Club International
          Several Individuals 

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  The California Chapters of the Brady  
          Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence state: 

            California's existing assault weapons statute prohibits  
            semi-automatic centerfire rifles or semiautomatic pistols that  
            have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and are  
            equipped with any of the following features:  a pistol grip, a  
            thumbhole stock, a folding or telescoping stock, a grenade or  
            flare launcher, a flash suppressor, or a forward pistol grip.   
            These features are not found on sporting guns and were  
            designed specifically to facilitate the killing of human  
            beings in battle.

            The California Brady Campaign Chapters support prohibiting  
            military-style semi-automatic assault weapons.  The rapid and  
            controlled spray of bullets associated with assault weapons is  
            a threat to police officers, families, and communities.  As  
            was shown by the tragedy at Sandy Hook School and more  
            recently in San Bernardino, an assault weapon escalates the  
            lethality and number of victims in a mass shooting incident.

            Unfortunately, firearm manufactures have found ways to enable  
            the dangerous quick reloading that the California's assault  
            weapons law sought to ban.  For example, the "bullet button"  
            is a feature that enables the firearm owner to use a bullet or  
            other pointed object to quickly detach and replace the  
            weapon's ammunition magazine.  Because the use of a bullet or  
            other "tool" is required to remove the magazine, the sale of  








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            bullet button-equipped guns has been allowed, even though the  
            California assault weapons law prohibits weapons that have  
            "the capacity to accept a detachable magazine."  In fact, in  
            the first eleven months after the retention of records for  
            long guns became operational (January 1, 2014 to December 2,  
            2014), there were 50,574 sales or transfers of military-style  
            weapons with a bullet-button or other similar feature that  
            allows for the rapid exchange of the magazine. 

            The California Brady Campaign Chapters support clarifying and  
            strengthening California's assault weapons law as proposed by  
            AB 1135.  The bill recasts existing law by listing as assault  
            weapons those firearms with military-style features that do  
            not have a fixed magazine.  A fixed magazine is defined 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.  A  
            weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined, and  
            has any one of the military-style features would be unlawful.   


            AB 1135 would require any person who lawfully possessed from  
            January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2016 an assault weapon that  
            does not have a fixed magazine as defined in the bill to  
            register the weapon before January 1, 2018 with the California  
            Department of Justice.  This record would enable law  
            enforcement to disarm the person through the Armed Prohibited  
            Persons System program if the person were to become prohibited  
            from possessing firearms and assist law enforcement in the  
            tracing of crime guns.  

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:According to the National Rifle  
          Association:

            AB 1135 would make serious changes to California's firearm  
            laws - banning hundreds of thousands of constitutionally  
            protected firearms that have no association with crime.   
                                                                                           These changes would happen quickly with great individual  
            costs to many gun owners and no public notice.  

            This bill has two major components.  The first would change  
            the definition of "detachable magazine," which would in turn  








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            change expand the number of firearms that California  
            considers "assault weapons."   The process of defining  
            "assault weapon" began with legislation authored by the late  
            Assemblyman, Art Agnos, in 1985.  The definition that became  
            law in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapon Control Act of 1989  
            has been modified or expanded multiple times since.  AB 1135  
            would change the existing definition for detachable magazine  
            to mean "an ammunition feeding device that can be removed  
            readily from the firearm without disassembly of the firearm  
            action, including an ammunition feeding device that can be  
            removed readily from the firearm with the use of a tool."   
            Changing the definition of "detachable magazine" would  
            strike a major blow to competitive high-power rifle  
            competition in California. "Bullet button" equipped rifles  
            are also commonly used for hunting and self protection.  AB  
            1135 would subject them to the onerous transfer and use  
            restrictions imposed on "assault weapons" - and future sales  
            in California would be banned.   

            The owners of firearms covered by these proposed changes  
            would have no way of knowing what was required of them.  The  
            widow of a firearm enthusiast who purchased a modern  
            sporting rifle for varmint hunting, competition shooting  
            and/or self-defense or the grandson who inherited his  
            grandfather's rifle could and would easily become  
            inadvertent criminals.

            The second element of this bill would require that on or  
            before July 1, 2018, every individual who lawfully possesses  
            a newly defined "assault weapon" must register it with the  
            Department of Justice.  This is not about crime control -  
            it's a blatant attack on lawful gun owners.

            By banning what amounts to hundreds of thousands of commonly  
            owned sporting rifles, AB 1135 plainly conflicts with the  
            Second Amendment.  As the Supreme Court noted, arms  
            "typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful  
            purposes" or those "in common use" are protected.  District  
            of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. at 624-25.  Should AB 1135  
            be enacted, it will result in immediate litigation against  
            the state to prevent enforcement of what amounts to a de  
            facto ban on a massive number of lawfully-owned firearms  








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            that have no association with crime. 


          Prepared by:Jessica Devencenzi / PUB. S. /
          5/18/16 16:21:32


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