BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    AB 1664       Hearing Date:    June 14, 2016    
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          |Author:    |Levine                                               |
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          |Version:   |May 31, 2016                                         |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|JRD                                                  |
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                        Subject:  Firearms:  Assault Weapons



          HISTORY

          Source:   Author

          Prior Legislation: SB 47 (Yee) - died in Assembly  
          Appropriations, 2013
                       SB 249 (Yee) - died in Assembly Appropriations,  
          2012
                       AB 2728 (Klehs) - Ch. 793, Statutes of 2006
                       SB 238 (Perata) - Ch. 499, Statutes of 2003
                       SB 626 (Perata) - Ch. 937, Statutes of 2001
                       SB 23 (Perata) - Ch. 129, Statutes of 1999
                       Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act - Ch. 19,   
          3, Stats. 1989

          Support:  All Saints Church; California Chapters of the Brady  
                    Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; California Chapter  
                    of the American College of Emergency Physicians; City  
                    of Long Beach; City of Santa Monica; Cleveland School  
                    Remembers; Coalition Against Gun Violence, a Santa  
                    Barbara County Coalition; Laguna Woods Democratic  
                    Club; Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Physicians  
                    for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area  
                    Chapter

          Opposition:California Sportsman's Lobby; California State  







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                    Sheriffs' Association; California Waterfowl;  
                    California Rifle and Pistol Association; Crossroads of  
                    the West Gun Shows; Firearms Policy Coalition; Gun  
                    Owners of California; National Rifle Association of  
                    America; National Shooting Sports Foundation; Outdoor  
                    Sportsmen's Coalition of California; Safari Club  
                    International 

          Assembly Floor Vote:                 43 - 31


          PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to (1)  define "detachable magazine"  
          as "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"; (2) provide  
          that any person who was eligible to register an assault weapon  
          and lawfully possessed such a weapon prior to January 1, 2017,  
          would be exempt from penalties, if the person registers the  
          weapon by July 1, 2018; (3) provide that this registration be  
          submitted online, as specified; (4) authorize DOJ to charge a  
          fee not to exceed the reasonable processing costs of the  
          department for this registration; and (5) require 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.
          
          Current law 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.)

          Current law 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.)

          Current law defines "assault weapon" as one of certain specified  
          rifles and pistols (Penal Code  30510) or as:

                 A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity  
               to accept a detachable magazine and has at least one of the  








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               following:

               o      A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath  
                 the action of the weapon;
               o      A thumbhole stock;
               o      A vertical handgrip;
               o      A folding or telescoping stock;
               o      A grenade launcher or flare launcher;
               o      A flash suppressor; or,
               o      A forward handgrip.

                 A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed  
               magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;
                 A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall  
               length of less than 30 inches; 
                 A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine and has at least one of the following:

               o      A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash  
                 suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;
               o      A second handgrip;
               o      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
               o      The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some  
                 location outside of the pistol grip.

                 A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has  
               the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;
                 A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:

               o      A folding or telescoping stock; and
               o      A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath  
                 the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical  
                 handgrip.

                 A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a  
               detachable magazine; and
                 Any shotgun that has a revolving cylinder.  (Penal Code  
                30515.)

          Current law defines a "detachable magazine" as any ammunition  
          feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with  








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          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.)

          Current law 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 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.)

          Current law 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.)

          Current law defines a ".50 BMG rifle and cartridge," as  
          specified.  (Penal Code  30525,  30530.)

          Current law 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.)

          Current law 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 states legislative intent to effectuate the  
          Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 and to close  
          the bullet button loophole by redefining "detachable magazine."


          This bill defines a "detachable magazine" as "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  








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          firearm with the use of a tool."


          This bill 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 shall not  
          apply to any person who initially possessed such a weapon before  
          January 1, 2017, and until July 1, 2018, if both of the  
          following are applicable:


                 During the person's possession, he or she was eligible  
               to register that assault weapon, as specified; and,


                 The person lawfully possessed that assault weapon before  
               January 1, 2017.


          This bill 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 specified,  
          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 with the Department of Justice (DOJ)  
          before July 1, 2018, pursuant to DOJ-established procedures.


          This bill requires registrations be submitted electronically via  
          the Internet utilizing a public-facing application made  
          available by the DOJ.


          This bill mandates that the registration contain a description  
          of the firearm which 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; and 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.


          This bill allows the DOJ to charge a registration fee, not to  








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          exceed the reasonable processing costs, payable by debit or  
          credit card at the time of submission of the electronic  
          registration.  The fee shall be deposited in the Dealers' Record  
          of Sale Special Account.


          This bill requires the DOJ to establish registration procedures  
          and exempts these procedures from the Administrative Procedure  
          Act.


                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the past several years this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  
          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  
          overcrowding.   

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   
                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          In December of 2015 the administration reported that as "of  
          December 9, 2015, 112,510 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.0% of design bed  
          capacity, and 5,264 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  The current population is 1,212 inmates below the  
          final court-ordered population benchmark of 137.5% of design bed  
          capacity, and has been under that benchmark since February  
          2015."  (Defendants' December 2015 Status Report in Response to  
          February 10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge  
          Court, Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  One  
          year ago, 115,826 inmates were housed in the State's 34 adult  
          institutions, which amounted to 140.0% of design bed capacity,  
          and 8,864 inmates were housed in out-of-state facilities.   








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          (Defendants' December 2014 Status Report in Response to February  
          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  
           
          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  
          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:

              Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has contributed  
               to reducing the prison population;
              Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy;
              Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
              Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
               legislative drafting error; and
              Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy.


          COMMENTS

          1.  Need for This Bill
          
          According to the author:

               The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989, and  
               subsequent enhancements in 1999 and 2004, banned assault  
               weapons in California.  

               These laws define prohibited assault weapons to include  
               firearms that have both the capacity to accept a detachable  
               magazine and one of a list of specific military-style  
               features.








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               The law, however, does not define the term "detachable  
               magazine." 

               Unfortunately, current regulations define "detachable  
               magazine" in a manner that runs counter to both the spirit  
               and the letter of the state's assault weapons law.

               Under the regulations, if any "tool," including a bullet,  
               is required to release a firearm's magazine, then the  
               weapon does not fall within the scope of the ban.

               As a way to circumvent the law, firearm manufacturers  
               developed a new feature to make military-style weapons  
               compliant in California, the bullet button.  

               The bullet button allows a shooter to use a bullet or other  
               tool to quickly detach and replace the gun's ammunition  
               magazine. Because the use of a bullet or other "tool" is  
               required to remove the magazine, the magazine is not  
               considered detachable making the firearm legal. However,  
               these guns are functionally operating in the same manner as  
               illegal assault weapons. This bill seeks to close that  
               loophole.

          2.Bullet Button: San Bernardino Shooting 

          On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 21 were seriously  
          injured in a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San  
          Bernardino, California.  The perpetrators of this mass shooting  
          used firearms that were legally purchased in California, 


               A carveout in a California gun law reportedly allowed for  
               the legal purchase of two assault-style rifles that were  
               used in the San Bernardino shooting Wednesday, which killed  
               14 people and injured 21 others, though the weapons were  
               later altered illegally. 




               Many guns in the style of the two AR-15 semiautomatic  
               rifles, a .223-caliber DPMS Model A15 and a Smith & Wesson  








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               M&P15, are banned under a 1989 California gun law targeting  
               assault weapons. The law specifically targets assault  
               rifles with magazines that are detachable by hand, in order  
               to prevent users from reloading quickly and inflicting mass  
               damage.




               But if the guns are equipped with a "bullet button," as the  
               Wall Street Journal reports the San Bernardino shooters'  
               were, they're perfectly legal to sell.  Instead of removing  
               a magazine by hand, the shooter must press a recessed  
               button that is only accessible using the tip of a bullet or  
               another small tool.  Technically, this does not classify as  
               a "detachable magazine," so the guns are allowed.  In  
               practice, the method still allows users to swap out  
               magazines within seconds.  Gunmakers began making bullet  
               buttons after California passed its harsher gun laws,  
               according to the Associated Press.




               But in this case, the weapons were additionally altered in  
               a way that violated the California law, the Journal  
               reports, allowing one to use higher-capacity magazines than  
               permitted.




               The two gunmen fired 65 to 75 rounds during the attack and  
               then another 76 rounds in a later shootout with police,  
               according to officials.  They had more than 1,400 more  
               assault rifle rounds on their bodies and in their vehicle. 




               (This Gun Law May Have Let the San Bernardino Attackers  
               Shoot Faster, Victor Luckerson, Time Magazine, December 4,  
               2015,  
               http://time.com/4136757/san-bernardino-shooting-gun-law-bull 








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               et-button/.) 


          3.  Background - The Genesis and Evolution of the Assault  
          Weapons Ban in California
          
          The origin of and subsequent modifications to the assault  
          weapons ban in California are described by the federal Court of  
          Appeal in the following extended excerpt from Silveira v.  
          Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002) (as amend.  Jan. 27,  
          2003). 

               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 California Assembly met soon thereafter in an  
               extraordinary session called for the purpose of  
               enacting a response to the Stockton shooting.  The  
               legislation that followed, the AWCA, was the first  
               legislative restriction on assault weapons in the  
               nation, and was the model for a similar federal  
               statute enacted in 1994.  The AWCA renders it a felony  
               offense to manufacture in California any of the  
               semi-automatic weapons specified in the statute, or to  
               possess, sell, transfer, or import into the state such  
               weapons without a permit. The statute contains a  
               grandfather clause that permits the ownership of  
               assault weapons by individuals who lawfully purchased  
               them before the statute's enactment, so long as the  
               owners register the weapons with the state Department  
               of Justice. The grandfather clause, however, imposes  
               significant restrictions on the use of weapons that  
               are registered pursuant to its provisions.  
               Approximately forty models of firearms are listed in  
               the statute as subject to its restrictions. The  








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               specified weapons include "civilian" models of  
               military weapons that feature slightly less firepower  
               than the military-issue versions, such as the Uzi, an  
               Israeli-made military rifle; the AR-15, a  
               semi-automatic version of the United States military's  
               standard-issue machine gun, the M-16; and the AK-47, a  
               Russian-designed and Chinese-produced military rifle.   
               The AWCA also includes a mechanism for the Attorney  
               General to seek a judicial declaration in certain  
               California Superior Courts that weapons identical to  
               the listed firearms are also subject to the statutory  
               restrictions. 

               The AWCA includes a provision that codifies the  
               legislative findings and expresses the legislature's  
               reasons for passing the law: 

               The Legislature hereby finds and declares 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 [the  
               statute] 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.  It is not,  
               however, the intent of the Legislature by this chapter  
               to place restrictions on the use of those weapons  
               which are primarily designed and intended for hunting,  
               target practice, or other legitimate sports or  
               recreational activities.
                                                        
               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.  The amended  
               AWCA retains both the original list of models of  
               restricted weapons, and the judicial declaration  
               procedure by which models may be added to the list.   








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               The 1999 amendments to the AWCA statute add a third  
               method of defining the class of restricted weapons:  
               The amendments provide that a weapon constitutes a  
               restricted assault weapon if it possesses certain  
               generic characteristics listed in the statute.  
               Examples of the types of weapons restricted by the  
               revised AWCA include a "semiautomatic, center-fire  
               rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to  
               accept more than 10 rounds," and a semiautomatic,  
               centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine and also features a flash  
               suppressor, a grenade launcher, or a flare launcher.  
               The amended AWCA also restricts assault weapons  
               equipped with "barrel shrouds," which protect the  
               user's hands from the intense heat created by the  
               rapid firing of the weapon, as well as semiautomatic  
               weapons equipped with silencers.  (Silveira v.  
               Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052, 1057-1059 (9th Cir. Cal. 2002)  
               (footnotes omitted; citations omitted).)
          
          4.  Constitutional Questions  
          
           The constitutionality of California's assault weapons ban has  
          been upheld by both the California Supreme Court (Kasler v.  
          Lockyer, 23 Cal. 4th 472 (2000)), and the federal Court of  
          Appeal.  (Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002) (as  
          amend. Jan. 27, 2003).)  While the California Supreme Court  
          rejected allegations that the law violated equal protection  
          guarantees, the separation of powers, and failed to provide  
          adequate notice of what was prohibited under the law, the Ninth  
          Circuit Court of Appeal decision in Silveira was based largely  
          on its interpretation of the Second Amendment right to keep and  
          bear arms. The Second Amendment to the Constitution states, "A  
          well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a  
          free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall  
          not be infringed."  (United States Const. Amend.  2.) The  
          Silveira Court based its ruling on the widely-held  
          interpretation of the Second Amendment known as the "collective  
          rights" view, that the right secured by the Second Amendment  
          relates to firearm ownership only in the context of a "well  
          regulated militia."  (Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052, 1086  
          (9th Cir. Cal. 2002).)

          The Silveira Court's interpretation of the meaning of the Second  








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          Amendment has since been squarely rejected by the U.S. Supreme  
          Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and  
          McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010).  Whether  
          the Heller and McDonald cases mean that California's assault  
          weapons ban violates the Second Amendment, and is therefore  
          unconstitutional, is a different matter. 

          In Heller, the Supreme Court rejected the "collective rights"  
          view of the Second Amendment, and, instead endorsed the  
          "individual rights" interpretation, that the Second Amendment  
          protects the right of each citizen to firearm ownership.  After  
          adopting this reading of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court  
          held that federal law may not prevent citizens from owning a  
          handgun in their home.  (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554  
          U.S. 570, 683-684.)  In the McDonald case, the Supreme Court  
          extended this ruling to apply to laws passed by the 50 states.   
          (McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3050.)

          While the Supreme Court has held it is unconstitutional to  
          prohibit citizens from owning a handgun in the home for  
          self-defense, it has also stated that the right secured by the  
          Second Amendment does not prohibited laws banning certain types  
          of weapons for civilian use, specifically, "M-16 rifles and the  
          like."  Whether the specific prohibitions contained in  
          California's existing assault weapons ban, or those proposed in  
          this bill, are consistent with the right guaranteed under the  
          Second Amendment was not specifically resolved by the decisions  
          in Heller and McDonald. 
          
          5.How This Bill Would Change the Existing Assault Weapons Ban
          
          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) Stats. 1999, Ch.  
          129,  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  








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          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  
               "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  








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               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.1   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.

               1 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. )

          This bill would amend the definition of "detachable magazine" as  
          "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."  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 would also require any person who, from January 1,  
          2001, to December 31, 2016, lawfully possessed an assault weapon  
          that has a detachable magazine to register the firearm before  
          July 1, 2018, with the department pursuant to those procedures  
          that the department may establish.  Because the bill would  
          clarify that these are assault weapons, this provision is  
          consistent with the existing law that requires assault weapons,  
          lawfully possessed, to be registered with DOJ. 
          








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          6.  2016 Bullet Button Bills 

          The Senate Public Safety Committee has already heard and passed  
          two bullet button bills, SB 880 (Hall) and AB 1135 (Levine).    
          While the intent of this legislation is "to close the bullet  
          button loophole," it takes a slightly different approach than SB  
          880 and AB 1135.   SB 880 and AB 1135 amend the definition of  
          assault weapon to a firearm that has one of several specified  
          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."  This legislation, instead, adds  
          a definition of "detachable magazine" to the Penal Code.   This  
          approach would likely put the Penal Code definition in conflict  
          with the regulatory definition of "detachable magazine" - thus  
          requiring that DOJ modify or delete its definition.  The other  
          primary difference between the bills is that SB 880 and AB 1135  
          place a cap of fifteen-dollars on the amount that DOJ can charge  
          for registration.   This legislation does not have a cap and,  
          instead, allows DOJ to charge a fee "no more than the reasonable  
          processing costs of the department."  

          7.  Argument in Support

          The California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
          Violence: 

               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.








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               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 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 1664.  The bill redefines detachable  
               magazine as 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.   A weapon that has a detachable magazine, as  
               defined, and any one of the military-style features would  
               be unlawful.  

               AB 1664 would require any person who lawfully possessed  
               from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2016 an assault weapon  
               as defined in the bill to register the weapon before July  
               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.  

          8.  Argument in Opposition

          According to the California Sheriffs Association:

               On behalf of the California State Sheriffs' Association  
               (CSSA), I regret to inform you that we are opposed to  








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               Assembly Bill 1664, which would expand the California  
               definition of "assault weapon" by defining the term  
               "detachable magazine" as an ammunition feeding device that  
               can be removed readily from the firearm without disassembly  
               of the firearm action or with the use of a tool.

               California has some of the strictest gun laws in the  
               nation, yet gun violence continues to plague our state.  We  
               must continue to take steps to keep guns out of the hands  
               of criminals and other prohibited persons.  That said, this  
               measure would make little progress toward that goal.   
               Instead, this measure would ban the sale of many commonly  
               owned and sold rifles that do not fall under the current  
               regulatory scheme.  In doing so, AB 1664 would likely  
               result in the allocation of law enforcement resources to  
               regulating the gun-owning practices of otherwise  
               law-abiding persons at the expense of efforts to keep  
               firearms out of the hands of criminals and other persons  
               that should not be armed.

               Sheriffs are generally supportive of efforts to create  
               appropriate penalties for persons who steal firearms and  
               for criminals who are found to possess firearms.  We have  
               supported bills that create mechanisms to keep firearms  
               away from certain persons, including in the form of gun  
               violence restraining orders.  Ultimately, we do not believe  
               AB 1664 will be successful in keeping firearms away from  
               dangerous persons.

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