BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  1





          Date of Hearing:  April 13, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          1664 (Levine) - As Introduced January 14, 2016


           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Policy       |Public Safety                  |Vote:|5 - 2        |
          |Committee:   |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |-------------+-------------------------------+-----+-------------|
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 


          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill redefines what constitutes an assault weapon, by  
          defining detachable magazine, and  requires registration of  
          weapons (previously not prohibited) which now fall under the new  
          definition.  Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Defines a "detachable magazine" as "an ammunition feeding  
            device that can be removed readily from the firearm without  








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  2





            disassembly of the firearm action, including an ammunition  
            feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm  
            with the use of a tool."

          2)Provides that, notwithstanding the new definition of assault  
            weapon contained in this bill, the penalties for the  
            possession of an assault weapon under this provision do apply  
            if specific conditions are met.  Also, all other existing  
            prohibitions on possession, sale or manufacture of assault  
            weapons apply to firearms redefined as assault weapons under  
            this bill.

          3)Requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to adopt regulations,  
            by July 1, 2018, to provide for the registration of those  
            firearms affected by this bill that were lawfully possessed  
            between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2016, and requires  
            registrations be submitted electronically via the Internet  
            utilizing a public-facing application made available by the  
            DOJ.

          FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)Significant cost to DOJ (Dealers' Record of Sale Account), $1  
            million in 2016-17, $1.5 million in 2017-18, and $700,000  
            annually thereafter.  DOJ estimates one million additional  
            assault weapons will be registered to 250,000 different  
            owners.  These costs include additional staff, one time cost  
            to adoption of regulations, and one-time information  
            technology development to implement a public-facing  
            application that allows the public to register firearms  
            classified as assault weapons. AB 1664 allows DOJ to charge a  
            fee to cover reasonable processing costs of DOJ.


          2)The use of a "new" assault weapon by an individual in the  
            commission of a crime may result in additional time served in  
            state prison or county jail.  Also, failure to register an  
            assault weapon is a misdemeanor.  These additional costs may  








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  3





            be moderate, however, difficult to quantify:      


             a)   According to the California Department of Corrections  
               (CDCR), the contracted out-of-state bed rate is $29,000.   
               If two individuals serve four additional years in state  
               prison, the first year cost would be $58,000, $116,000 the  
               second, $174,000 the third, and $232,000 every year  
               thereafter. 


             b)   Local costs for incarceration are nonreimbursable, but  
               are offset to a degree by fine revenue. 


          COMMENTS:


          1)Background.  In response to a proliferation of shootings  
            involving semi-automatic weapons, the California Legislature  
            passed the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act (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 300 pupils were enjoying their morning recess.  Five  
            children ages six to nine were killed, and one teacher and 29  
            children were wounded.   In 1999, the Legislature amended the  
            AWCA in order to broaden its coverage and to render it more  
            flexible in response to technological developments in the  
            manufacture of semiautomatic weapons.  



            Current law defines an "assault weapon" as one of certain  
            specified rifles and pistols, including some that have the  
            capacity to accept a detachable magazine.  Through  
            regulations, current law defines a "detachable magazine" as  
            any ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from  








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  4





            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.  

            Current law also provides that unlawful possession of an  
            assault weapon is an alternate felony-misdemeanor and it is  
            punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not  
            exceeding one year, or by imprisonment for 16 months, two or  
            three years.  However, a first violation of these provisions  
            is punishable 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.   

             Furthermore, under current law, 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.  
             
           2)Purpose.  According to the author, AB 1664 closes the bullet  
            button loophole that permits the sale of military-style  
            assault rifles in California.  
            
             High capacity magazines High-capacity detachable ammunition  
            magazines allow shooters to expel large amounts of ammunition  
            quickly.  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.  By codifying the definition a detachable magazine,  
            this bill addresses the heart of the limitations in the AWCA,  
            and fulfills its original intent: to prohibit firearms that  
            have the ability to detach a magazine and rapidly reload.   








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  5





            Effectively, AB 1664 prohibits the future sale, purchase,  
            manufacture, importation, or transfer in California of  
            semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines.  

            The use of an assault weapon in the commission of a crime  
            carries additional punishments, and in some cases the sentence  
            is served in state prison instead of county jail.  By  
            expanding the universe of assault weapons, this bill will  
            result in additional commitments to county jails and state  
            prison.   

          3)Support.  According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence,  
            "California's assault weapons ban does not define the term  
            'detachable magazine,' however.  Perplexingly, current DOJ  
            regulations define 'detachable magazine' in a manner that runs  
            counter to both the spirit and the letter of the state's  
            assault weapons ban.  Under these regulations' definition, a  
            weapon is not considered to have a detachable magazine, and is  
            therefore not a prohibited assault weapon, if a 'tool' is used  
            to release the firearm's magazine instead of a shooter's  
            finger alone.  The regulations specifically state that 'a  
            bullet or an ammunition feeding device is considered a tool.'

            "AB 1664 would further the letter and the spirit of  
            California's assault weapons law by adding a statutory  
            definition of 'detachable magazine' to clarify that the bullet  
            button weapons are illegal assault weapons."

          4)Opposition:  The California Sportsman's Lobby states, "A ban  
            on future sales of these popular sporting rifles by defining  
            them to be assault weapons would only serve to deny California  
            sportsmen quality rifles, and according to the National Rifle  
            Association, "AB 1664 would subject the state to unnecessary  
            litigation.  By banning what amounts to millions of the most  
            common hunting and sporting rifles, AB 1663 (sic) clearly  
            conflicts with this direct guidance from the Supreme Court and  
            is thus plainly unconstitutional. "

          5)Related Legislation:  SB 1663 Chiu takes a different approach,  








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  6





            it amends the definition of an assault weapon as it pertains  
            to rifles and defines "detachable magazines" and "fixed  
            magazines."  It also requires a registration program, but caps  
            the fee at $15. SB 1663 is also scheduled for hearing in  
            today.  

          6)Prior Legislation:  

                  a)        SB 47 (Yee), of the 2013-2014 Legislative  
                    Session, would have closed the bullet button loophole  
                    by redefining an assault weapon in statute as 'a  
                    semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that does not have a  
                    fixed magazine' and has any one of several specified  
                    features.  SB 47 was held on this Committee's Suspense  
                    file.

                  b)        SB 374 (Steinberg), of the 2013-2014  
                    Legislative Session, would have closed the bullet  
                    button loophole by redefining an assault weapon as it  
                    pertains to rifles and defines "detachable magazines"  
                    and "fixed magazines."  Specifies that rifles which  
                    are not assault weapons have fixed magazines.  SB 347  
                    was vetoed by the Governor.  In his veto message, the  
                    Governor stated, in part:

                      "The State of California already has some of the  
                      strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on  
                      military-style assault rifles and high-capacity  
                      ammunition magazines. 

                      Moreover, hundreds of thousands of current gun  
                      owners would have to register their rifles as  
                      assault weapons and would be banned from selling or  
                      transferring them in the future. 

                      I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on  
                      semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity  
                      or enhance public safety enough to warrant this  
                      infringement on gun owners' rights."








                                                                    AB 1664


                                                                    Page  7







                  c)        SB 249 (Yee), of the 2011-12 Legislative  
                    Session, would have prohibited any person from  
                    importing, making, selling, loaning, transferring or  
                    possessing any conversion kit designed to convert  
                    certain firearms with a fixed magazine into firearms  
                    with a detachable magazine.  SB 249 was held on this  
                    Committee's Suspense file.



                    
          Analysis Prepared by:Pedro Reyes / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081