BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2508


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          Date of Hearing:  March 29, 2016
          Chief Counsel:     Gregory Pagan


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY


                       Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Chair





          AB  
                       2508 (Mathis) - As Amended  March 28, 2016




          SUMMARY:  Provides that a handgun model removed from the roster  
          of not unsafe handguns for any reason other than failing handgun  
          safety testing, including, but not limited to, a failure to pay  
          the annual fee, may be reinstated on the roster, as specified.   
          Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Provides that a handgun model removed from the roster of not  
            unsafe handguns for any reason other than failing handgun  
            safety testing, including, but not limited to, a failure to  
            pay the annual fee, may be reinstated on the roster if all of  
            the following conditions are met:

             a)   The manufacturer petitions the Attorney General (AG) for  
               reinstatement of the handgun model;

             b)   The reinstatement testing of the handguns shall be in  
               accordance with specified retesting procedures; and, 

             c)   Requires the handgun manufacturer to provide the AG with  
               the complete testing history for the handgun model.

          2)States that a handgun model reinstated pursuant to the above  
            provisions shall only be required to meet the handgun safety  








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            definitional requirements in place at the time the handgun  
            model was originally submitted for testing.

          3)Provides that if the handgun model successfully passes testing  
            for reinstatement, as specified, the AG shall reinstate the  
            handgun model on the roster of not unsafe handguns;

          4)States that a firearm shall be deemed to be not unsafe if  
            another firearm made by the same manufacturer is already  
            listed and the unlisted firearm differs from the listed  
            firearm in dimension, barrel length, finish, coating, sights,  
            magazine well opening, machining, contouring, or any other  
            non-substantive mechanical or cosmetic feature, but is  
            otherwise internally functionally identical to the listed  
            firearm.

          5)Provides that a firearm shall be deemed to meet the safety  
            standards required in order to be listed on the roster of not  
            unsafe handguns, if a manufacturer alters a listed firearm  
            with a change or changes, including, but not limited to,  
            function, mechanical components, or material, if the changes,  
            are in the opinion of the manufacture, necessary to improve  
            the safety or operation of the firearm.  Any change does not  
            exempt the firearm from drop safety testing or payment of the  
            annual fee to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the cost of  
            maintaining the roster.

          6)Requires a manufacturer to make a statement under oath that  
            each unlisted firearm for which listing is sought meet the  
            above requirements related to similarly tested firearms, or  
            changes related to the safety and operation of the firearm. 

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Requires commencing January 1, 2001, that any person in  
            California who manufactures or causes to be manufactured,  
            imports into the state for sale, keeps for sale, offers or  
            exposes for sale, gives, or lends any unsafe handgun shall be  
            punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one  
            year.  (Pen. Code,  32000, subd. (a).)  

             a)   Specifies that this section shall not apply to any of  








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               the following: 

               i)     The manufacture in California, or importation into  
                 this state, of any prototype pistol, revolver, or other  
                 firearm capable of being concealed upon the person when  
                 the manufacture or importation is for the sole purpose of  
                 allowing an independent laboratory certified by the  
                 Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an independent  
                 test to determine whether that pistol, revolver, or other  
                 firearm capable of being concealed upon the person is  
                 prohibited, inclusive, and, if not, allowing the  
                 department to add the firearm to the roster of pistols,  
                 revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed  
                 upon the person that may be sold in this.

               ii)    The importation or lending of a pistol, revolver, or  
                 other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person  
                 by employees or authorized agents of entities determining  
                 whether the weapon is prohibited by this section.

               iii)   Firearms listed as curios or relics, as defined in  
                 federal law.

               iv)    The sale or purchase of any pistol, revolver, or  
                 other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person,  
                 if the pistol, revolver, or other firearm is sold to, or  
                 purchased by, the Department of Justice, any police  
                 department, any sheriff's official, any marshal's office,  
                 the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, the California  
                 Highway Patrol, any district attorney's office, or the  
                 military or naval forces of this state or of the United  
                 States for use in the discharge of their official duties.  
                 Nor shall anything in this section prohibit the sale to,  
                 or purchase by, sworn members of these agencies of any  
                 pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being  
                 concealed upon the person.  (Pen. Code,  32000, subd.  
                 (b).)

          2)Specifies that violations of the unsafe handgun provisions are  
            cumulative with respect to each handgun and shall not be  
            construed as restricting the application of any other law.  
          (Pen. Code,  32000, subd. (c).)








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          3)Defines "unsafe handgun" as any pistol, revolver, or other  
            firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, as  
            specified, which lacks various safety mechanisms, as  
            specified.  (Pen. Code,  31910.)

          4)Requires any concealable firearm manufactured in California,  
            imported for sale, kept for sale, or offered for sale to be  
            tested within a reasonable period of time by an independent  
            laboratory, certified by the state Department of Justice  
            (DOJ), to determine whether it meets required safety  
            standards, as specified.  (Pen. Code,  32010, subd. (a).)  

          5)Requires DOJ, on and after January 1, 2001, to compile,  
            publish, and thereafter maintain a roster listing all of the  
            pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being  
            concealed upon the person that have been tested by a certified  
            testing laboratory, have been determined not to be unsafe  
            handguns, and may be sold in this state, as specified.  The  
            roster shall list, for each firearm, the manufacturer, model  
            number, and model name. (Pen. Code,  32015, subd. (a).)

          6)Provides that DOJ may charge every person in California who is  
            licensed as a manufacturer of firearms, as specified, and any  
            person in California who manufactures or causes to be  
            manufactured, imports into California for sale, keeps for  
            sale, or offers or exposes for sale any pistol, revolver, or  
            other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person in  
            California, an annual fee not exceeding the costs of  
            preparing, publishing, and maintaining the roster of firearms  
            determined not be unsafe, and the costs of research and  
            development, report analysis, firearms storage, and other  
            program infrastructure costs, as specified.  (Pen. Code   
            32015, subd. (b)(1).)

          7)Provides that the Attorney General (AG) may annually test up  
            to 5 percent of the handgun models listed on the roster that  
            have been found to be not unsafe.  (Pen. Code,  30020, subd.  
            (a).)

          8)States that a handgun removed from the roster for failing the  
            above retesting may be reinstated to the roster if all of the  








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            following are met:

             a)   The manufacturer petitions the AG for reinstatement of  
               the handgun model;

             b)   The manufacturer pays the DOJ for all the costs related  
               to the reinstatement testing of the handgun model,  
               including purchase of the handgun, prior to reinstatement  
               testing;

             c)   The reinstatement testing of the handguns shall be in  
               accordance with specified retesting procedures;

             d)   The three handguns samples shall only be tested once.   
               If the sample fails it may not be retested;

             e)   If the handgun model successfully passes testing for  
               reinstatement, as specified, the AG shall reinstate the  
               handgun model on the roster of not unsafe handguns;

             f)   Requires the handgun manufacturer to provide the AG with  
               the complete testing history for the handgun model; and, 

             g)   Allows the AG, at any time, to further retest any  
               handgun model that has been reinstated to the roster.   
               (Pen. Code,  32025, subds. (a)-(g).) 

          9)Provides that a firearm may be deemed to be listed on the  
            roster of not unsafe handguns if a firearm made by the same  
            manufacturer is already listed and the unlisted firearm  
            differs from the listed firearm in one or more of the  
            following features:

             a)   Finish, including, but not limited to bluing, chrome  
               plating or engraving;

             b)   The material from which the grips are made;

             c)   The shape or texture of the grips, so long as the  
               difference in grip shape or texture that does not in any  
               way alter the dimensions, material, linkage, or functioning  
               of the magazine well, the barrel, the chamber, or any of  








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               the components of the firing mechanism of the firearm.

             d)   Any other purely cosmetic feature that does not in any  
               way alter the dimensions, material, linkage, or functioning  
               of the magazine well, the barrel, the chamber, or any of  
               the components of the firing mechanism of the firearm.   
               (Pen Code,  32030, subd. (a).)

          10)States that any manufacturer seeking to have a firearm listed  
            as being similar to a tested shall provide the DOJ with the  
            following:

             a)   The model designation of the listed firearm;

             b)   The model designation of each firearm that the  
               manufacturer seeks to have listed on the roster of not  
               unsafe handguns;

             c)   Requires a manufacturer to make a statement under oath  
               that each unlisted firearm for which listing is sought  
               differs from the listed firearm in only one or more  
               specified ways, and is otherwise identical to the listed  
               firearm.  (Pen Code,  32030, subd. (b).)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

          COMMENTS:  

          1)Author's Statement:  According to the author, "AB 2508 would  
            give law-abiding residents the opportunity to acquire  
            previously safety-tested and Department of Justice (DOJ)  
            approved, quality handguns that were removed from California's  
            Handgun Roster for reasons not related to whether or not such  
            handguns were "unsafe". Additionally, it would allow  
            manufacturers to make minor changes, such as a safety upgrades  
            to firearms that are already on the roster."

          2)Not Unsafe Handgun Law:  SB 15 (Polanco), Chapter 248,  
            Statutes of 1999, made it a misdemeanor for any person in  
            California to manufacture, import for sale, offer for sale,  
            give, or lend any unsafe handgun as, as defined, with specific  
            exceptions.  SB 15 defined an "unsafe handgun" as a handgun  








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            that does not have requisite safety features, does not meet  
            specified firing requirements or does meet specified drop  
            safety requirements.

          SB 489 (Scott), Chapter 500, Statutes of 2003, added to the  
            handgun safety requirements, effective January 1, 2007,  all  
            center-fire semiautomatic pistols not already found to be  
            "safe" to have both a chamber load indicator and a magazine  
            disconnect mechanism if the pistol has a detachable magazine  
            in order to be added to the roster of approved "safe"  
            firearms.  All firearms that were not on the unsafe handgun  
            roster prior to the effective date of this stature were  
            grandfathered in.

          AB 1471 (Feuer), Chapter 572, Statutes of 2007, added  
            "microstamping" as a requirement for a firearm to be placed on  
            the not unsafe handgun roster beginning January 1, 2010  
            provided that the DOJ certifies that the technology used to  
            create the imprint is available to more than one manufacturer  
            unencumbered by patent restrictions.  The DOJ issued the  
            required certification on May 17, 2013.  As with chamber load  
            indicators and magazine disconnect mechanisms, the  
            "microstamping" requirement did not apply to firearms that  
            were already on the roster.  

          This legislation makes two changes to the not unsafe handgun  
            law. First, it would allow a firearm that was on the roster  
            but was removed for a reason other than failing safety  
            testing, for example, failure to pay the annual fee, to be  
            added back the roster if it meets specified requirements.   
            Secondly, a handgun model seeking reinstatement would only be  
            required to meet the standards that were in place when the  
            model was originally placed on the roster.  For example, a  
            handgun that was placed on the roster in 2002 and was removed  
            in 2013 for a failure to pay the annual fee, could be added  
            back to the roster without a chamber load indicator, magazine  
            disconnect, and microstamping.

          3)Argument in Support:  According to the Firearms Policy  
            Coalition, "As you know, the number of semi-automatic firearms  
            available for sale in California is diminishing due to changes  
            to the statutes governing the handgun roster put in place  








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            since its inception in 2000. Originally a consumer product  
            safety testing system, over the years it has become, in  
            practice, a total ban on new semi-automatic firearms. New  
            models may not be submitted for testing and inclusion on the  
            approved roster unless they have "microstamping" technology.  
            Unfortunately, workable microstamping technology does not  
            exist in the industry, nor does it appear that it will in the  
            foreseeable future. 

          "In addition, the current statute can be interpreted to prohibit  
            the upgrading or modification of already approved handguns- if  
            a part or vendor in the supply chain needs to be changed or  
            upgraded for quality or safety, the manufacturer cannot  
            re-apply under the same testing conditions as it must then be  
            treated as an entirely new model and tested with  
            "microstamping", which as we stated previously- does not  
            exist.

            "Your measure, Assembly Bill 2508, clarifies that minor  
            changes that do not change the internal functionality of the  
            firearm will not prevent that firearm from being safety-tested  
            in a state approved laboratory under the same requirements it  
            was successfully submitted under originally.

            "This is a win for public safety, the consumer and the  
            manufacturer. It represents the spirit of the original  
            enacting legislation, but clarifies those issues that prevent  
            the consumer from having access to high quality products."

          4)Argument in Opposition:  According to the California Chapters  
            of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "Pursuant to  
            the Unsafe Handgun Act (SB 15), which was enacted in 1999,  
            California law established various requirements governing  
            unsafe handguns. For example, existing law requires the  
            Department of Justice to maintain a roster listing the  
            handguns that have been tested have been determined not to be  
            unsafe. Further, existing law allows a handgun model that has  
            been included in the roster to be retested and allows the  
            handgun model to be removed from the roster if it fails  
            retesting. 

          "If a handgun model is removed from the roster for failing  








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            retesting, existing law allows reinstatement following a  
            petition to the Attorney General for reinstatement and  
            successful retesting. AB 2508, however, would allow a handgun  
            model removed from the roster for any other reason to be  
            reinstated to the roster upon a petition to the Attorney  
            General. The bill further provides that a handgun model that  
            is reinstated to the roster in this way must only meet the  
            requirements for listing as of the date the handgun model was  
            originally submitted for testing. 

          "Another provision of AB 2508 would revise the features in which  
            the unlisted firearm may differ from the listed firearm and  
            still be reinstated on the roster, provided that the unlisted  
            firearm is otherwise internally functionally identical to the  
            listed firearm. Finally, the bill would require a firearm to  
            be deemed to satisfy the requirements of being listed on the  
            roster if a manufacturer alters a listed firearm, and the  
            changes are, in the opinion of the manufacturer, necessary to  
            improve the safety or operation of the firearm. 

          "These provisions are objectionable because they are both too  
            broad (an unlisted firearm can differ from the listed firearm  
            in dimension, barrel length, finish, coating, grips, sights,  
            magazine well opening, machining, contouring, or any other  
            non-substantive mechanical or cosmetic feature) and subjective  
            (in the opinion of the manufacturer is necessary to improve  
            the safety or operation of the firearm). The reasonable  
            solution is to submit the unlisted guns for testing as new  
            models, which they essentially are. 

          "The California Brady Campaign strongly opposes AB 2508. If a  
            firearm has been removed from the roster because of voluntary  
            action by a firearm manufacturer, then the manufacturer should  
            have to live by its decision and/or actions. A manufacturer  
            may, of course, resubmit the firearm for retesting but it  
            should be required to comply with all the requirements in  
            place at the time of resubmittal. In practical terms, this  
            means that the firearm should possess an approved chamber load  
            indicator and be equipped with micro-stamping technology. It  
            is clear that the underlying purpose of this bill is to  
            circumvent these newer additions to the law."









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          5)Prior Legislation:  SB 916 (Correa), of the 2014-2015  
            Legislative Session, was substantially similar to this bill in  
            that it allowed a firearm to be reinstated to the DOJ roster  
            of "not unsafe handguns" if the handgun was removed from the  
            roster for any reason other than failing handgun safety  
            testing.  SB 916 failed passage in the Senate Public Safety  
            Committee.

          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

          Support

          California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees
          Crossroads of the West Gun Shows
          Firearms Policy Coalition
          National Rifle Association of America
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
          Safari Club International

          Opposition

          California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
          Violence
          Law Center to Prevent gun Violence
          
          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Gregory Pagan / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744