BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                    AB 1673

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          Date of Hearing:  April 13, 2016


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair

          1673 (Gipson) - As Amended March 29, 2016

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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   


          This bill expands the definition of "firearm" to include the  
          frame or receiver of the weapon or a frame or receiver "blank,"  
          "casting" or "machined body" that is designed and clearly  


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          identifiable as a component of a functional weapon, from which  
          is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of an  
          explosion or other form of combustion.

          FISCAL EFFECT:

          Initial moderate DOJ cost in the range of $250,000 for each of  
          the first two years, and $40,000 on every year thereafter  
          (Dealers' Record of Sale Account).  These cost include one-time  
          cost for software programming, development and testing to  
          register the new firearms.  Current law requires DOJ to charge a  
          dealer a fee for every firearm purchased.


          1)Current law:  
              a)   Federal law requires licensed importers and  
               manufacturers to identify each gun imported or manufactured  
               by using the serial number engraved or cast on the receiver  
               or frame.  

              b)   The U.S. Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 makes it  
               illegal to manufacture, import, sell, possess, or receive  
               any gun that is not as detectable by walk-through metal  
               detection by containing at least 3.7 oz. of steel, or any  
               gun with major components that do not generate an accurate  
               image before standard airport imaging technology. 

             c)   Allows the state DOJ, upon request, to assign a  
               distinguishing number or mark to any gun that lacks a  
               manufacturer's number or other mark of identification, or  
               if the manufacturer's number or other mark of  
               identification, or a distinguishing number or mark assigned  
               by the department has been destroyed.  


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              d)   Requires that firearms dealers obtain certain  
               identifying information from firearms purchasers and  
               forward that information, via electronic transfer to the  
               DOJ to perform a background check on the purchaser to  
               determine whether he or she is prohibited from possessing a  

              e)   Requires purchasers to present a handgun safety  
               certificate prior to the submission of DROS information for  
               a firearm, or provide the dealer with proof of exemption  

              f)   Makes it a misdemeanor, with exceptions, to buy,  
               receive, sell, or possess a gun that has had the name of  
               the maker or model, or the manufacturer's number or other  
               mark of identification altered, or obliterated.   

             There are no provisions in existing law, however, which  
            prevent a person from buying an 80% lower receiver and then  
            making it into a fully functional firearm.  According to  
            Tactical Machining, "An 80% Receiver is a partially completed  
            piece of material that requires special tooling and skills to  
            be completed and considered a firearm."  

            Because 80% lower receivers are not considered firearms, a  
            person purchasing them does not have to go through a federal  
            firearms dealer, and does not have to undergo a background  
            check.  Additionally, according to the Bureau of Alcohol,  
            Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) "firearms that began as  
            receiver blanks have been recovered after shooting incidents,  
            from gang members and from prohibited people after they have  
            been used to commit crimes."

          2)Purpose. According to the author, AB 1673 will close a  
            dangerous loophole that allows anyone to sell, trade and  
            manufacture in partial-completion the only part of a firearm  
            that is subject to serial-number identification and  
            registration. Unfinished receivers and frames will be treated  
            the same way a finished receiver is treated, and require  


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            background checks in order to be sold, prohibit them from the  
            possession of the mentally ill and convicted felons, and  
            require mandatory serial number application. 

          3)Support:  According to the California Chapters of the Brady  
            Campaign, "Although existing California law requires  
            background checks and the retention of transfer records,  
            people have found that they can avoid these requirements and  
            other California gun laws by creating and marketing partially  
            complete or "80 percent" lower receivers or frames.  According  
            to media reports and law enforcement, there is a growing  
            number of firearms assembled from partially complete receivers  
            and fames and these firearms are increasingly used in crime.   
            AB 1673 will address this problem. 

            "A person with a drill press can easily drill the necessary  
            holes to complete the receiver or frame and advances in 3D  
            printing technology is increasing the availability of  
            unfinished lower receivers and frames.  Firearms assembled  
            from these partially complete lower receivers and frames are  
            untraceable for law enforcement."  

          4)Opposition.  According to the Firearms Policy Coalition, "AB  
            1673 would change the definition of a firearm to include  
            things that are not firearms.  

            "In order to comply with AB 1673, non-firearm firearms would  
            need to be taken to and transferred through a licensed (real)  
            firearms dealer.  These 'readily convertible' pieces of  
            plastic, wood, aluminum, iron, or steel would then need to be  
            entered into the California Department of Justice (DOJ)  
            Dealer's Record of Sale Entry System (DROS DES) in order to  
            provide the DOJ with the information required to register the  
            non-firearm with the state.  (Can you imagine what the DOJ's  
            DROS DES technical support logs will look like after AB 1673?)

            "Unfortunately for Assemblymember Gipson, the DOJ's systems  
            are designed for actual firearms.  AB 1673 would necessitate  
            the promulgation of new regulations as well as costly  


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            modifications to DOJ's many systems and databases.  (While the  
            cost of doing as much would certainly be substantial,  
            California would at least have bragging rights to the first  
            non-firearm firearm database in the known history of the  

            "Adding insult to injury, following the entry of the  
            non-firearm firearm into the DROS system, the non-firearm  
            firearm owner would then be required to wait at least 10 days  
            (and up to 30) to take possession of their non-firearm firearm  
            from the transferring dealer.  

            "And should the non-firearm firearm owner ever be found or  
            thought to be prohibited from firearm possession, the person  
            would be placed into the DOJ's failed Armed Prohibited Persons  
            system so DOJ agents or local law enforcement could confiscate  
            the non-firearm firearm."  
          5)Related Legislation:  SB 1407 (De Leon), requires a person who  
            manufactures or assembles a firearm to first apply to the DOJ  
            for a unique serial number or other identifying mark; requires  
            any person who owns a firearm that does not bear a serial  
            number to likewise apply to the department for a unique serial  
            number or other mark of identification; prohibits the sale or  
            transfer of ownership of a firearm manufactured or assembled  
            pursuant to these provisions; and prohibits a person from  
            aiding in the manufacture or assembly of a firearm by a person  
            who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.  SB 1407 has been  
            referred to Senate Rules Committee for further assignment.  

          6)Prior Legislation:  SB 808 (De Leon) of the 2013-2014  
            legislative session, required a person, commencing January 1,  
            2016, to apply to and obtain from the Department of Justice  
            (DOJ) a unique serial number or other mark of identification  
            prior to manufacturing or assembling a firearm.  The Governor  
            vetoed the bill with the following message:  
               "I am returning Senate Bill 808 without my signature.


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               "SB 808 would require individuals who build guns at home to  
               first obtain a serial number and register the weapon with  
               the Department of Justice.

               "I appreciate the author's concerns about gun violence, but  
               I can't see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun  
               would significantly advance public safety."


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