BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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

          Bill No:    SB 880        Hearing Date:      April 19, 2016    
          
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          |Author:    |Hall                                                 |
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          |Version:   |March 28, 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:  American Academy of Pediatrics; Bend the Arc;  Brady  
                    Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Brotherhood Crusade;  
                    California Academy of Family Physicians; California  
                    Chapters; California Chapter of the American College  
                    of Emergency Physicians; California Communities United  
                    Institute; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and  
                    Science; City of Oakland; City of Long Beach;  
                    Coalition Against Gun Violence, a Santa Barbara  
                    Coalition; County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors;  







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                    Community Clinic Association; Courage Campaign; Eric  
                    Garcetti, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Mayor of  
                    the City of Los Angeles; Kamala Harris, California  
                    Attorney General; Nevada County Democrats; Orange  
                    County Chapter, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
                    Violence; Peace Over Violence; Physicians for Social  
                    Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter;  
                    Rainbow Services; Violence Prevention Coalition of  
                    Greater Los Angeles; Youth Alive!; several individuals

          Opposition:California State Sheriffs' Association; California  
                    Sportsman's Lobby, Inc.; Crossroads of the West;  
                    Firearms Policy Coalition; Gun Owners of California;  
                    National Rifle Association; National Shooting Sports  
                    Foundation, Inc.; Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of  
                    California; Safari Club International

                                                


          





          PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to (1) amend the definition of  
          assault weapon to refer to a firearm that has one of several  
          specified military-style features and does not have a "fixed  
          magazine" rather than a firearm that has one of those features  
          and "has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine;" (2)  
          define "fixed magazine" as "an ammunition feeding device  
          contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such a  
          manner that the device cannot be removed without disassembly of  
          the firearm action"; (3) 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 January 1,  
          2018; (4) require that any person who from January 1, 2001, to  
          December 31, 2016, lawfully possessed an assault weapon that  
          does not have a fixed magazine, as defined, register the firearm  
          before January 1, 2018, with the Department of Justice (DOJ), as  








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          specified; (5) provide that this registration be submitted  
          online, as specified; (6) authorize DOJ to charge a fee of up to  
          $15 per person but not to exceed the reasonable processing costs  
          of the department for this registration; and (7) 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  
               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;








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               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  
          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  








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

          This bill would define "fixed magazine" as "an ammunition  
          feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a  
          firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed  
          without disassembly of the firearm action."

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

                 Prior to January 1, 2017, the person was eligible to  
               register that assault weapon pursuant to subdivision (c) of  
               Section 30900;
                 The person lawfully possessed that assault weapon on  
               January 1, 2017; and
                 The person registers the assault weapon by January 1,  
               2018, a specified.

          This bill would provide that any person who, from January 1,  
          2001, to December 31, 2016, inclusive, lawfully possessed an  
          assault weapon that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined  
          in Section 30515, including those weapons with an ammunition  
          feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with  








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          the use of a tool, shall register the firearm before January 1,  
          2018, with the department pursuant to those procedures that the  
          department may establish.

                 Registrations shall be submitted electronically via the  
               Internet utilizing a public-facing application made  
               available by the department.
                 The registration shall contain a description of the  
               firearm that identifies it uniquely, including all  
               identification marks, the date the firearm was acquired,  
               the name and address of the individual from whom, or  
               business from which, the firearm was acquired, as well as  
               the registrant's full name, address, telephone number, date  
               of birth, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and  
               California driver's license number or California  
               identification card number.
                 The department may charge a fee of up to fifteen dollars  
               ($15) per person but not to exceed the reasonable  
               processing costs of the department.  The fee shall be paid  
               by debit or credit card at the time that the electronic  
               registration is submitted to the department.  The fee shall  
               be deposited in the Dealers' Record of Sale Special  
               Account.
                 The department shall establish procedures for the  
               purpose of carrying out this subdivision.  These procedures  
               shall be exempt 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;








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                 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.   
          (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.








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          COMMENTS

          1.  Need for This Bill
          
          According to the author:

               Studies show that states with the toughest gun laws have  
               the lowest rates of gun-related deaths. While California  
               has led the nation in prohibiting the ownership of  
               military-style assault weapons with detachable ammunition  
               magazines, gun manufacturers are exploiting the "bullet  
               button loophole" to create "California compliant" assault  
               weapons. 

               For years, gun owners have been able to circumvent  
               California's assault weapon laws by using a small tool to  
               quickly eject and reload ammunition magazines. Bullet  
               button-equipped weapons are functionally the same as  
               illegal assault weapons, but are not included in the  
               prohibition because a tool is required to release the  
               ammunition magazine, and it cannot technically be released  
               by hand. 

               These types of modifications have no legitimate use for  
               sport hunters or competitive shooters. Bullet  
               button-equipped weapons are designed only to facilitate the  
               maximum destruction of human life. Such weapons have been  
               used in a number of recent gun attacks including the recent  
               terrorist attack in San Bernardino that left 14  
               Californians dead and 21 injured. 

               This bill clarifies the definition of assault weapons and  
               provides the Department of Justice the authority to bring  
               existing regulations into conformity with the original  
               intent of California's Assault Weapon Ban. Absent this  
               bill, the assault weapon ban is severely weakened, and  
               these types of military-style firearms will continue to  
               proliferate on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

          2.Bullet Button: San Bernardino Shooting 

          On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 21 were seriously  








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          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  
               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.








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               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 
               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  








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               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  
               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  








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               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.   
               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  








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          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  
          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. 








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          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  
          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  








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

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

               High-capacity detachable ammunition magazines allow  
               shooters to expel large amounts of ammunition quickly  
               and have no sporting purpose.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 assault weapon to a  
          firearm that has one of several specified features and does not  








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          have a "fixed magazine," rather than a firearm that has one of  
          those features and "has the capacity to accept a detachable  
          magazine."  It would also define, "fixed magazine" as "an  
          ammunition feeding device contained in, or permanently attached  
          to, a firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed  
          without disassembly of the firearm action."  So, a semiautomatic  
          rifle could have a detachable magazine, as long as it does not  
          also have any features or it could have the features as long as  
          it had a fixed magazine.  The purpose of this change is to  
          clarify that equipping a weapon with a "bullet button" magazine  
          release does not take that weapon outside the definition of an  
          assault weapon. 

          This bill would also require any person who, from January 1,  
          2001, to December 31, 2016, lawfully possessed an assault weapon  
          that does not have a fixed magazine, as defined, including those  
          weapons with an ammunition feeding device that can be removed  
          readily from the firearm with the use of a tool, in other words,  
          those weapons with a "bullet button" magazine release, to  
          register the firearm before January 1, 2018, with the department  
          pursuant to those procedures that the department may establish.   
          Because 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. 

          6.  Argument in Support

          According to 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  








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               communities.   As was shown by the tragedy at Sandy Hook  
               School and more recently in San Bernardino, an assault  
               weapon escalates the lethality and number of victims in a  
               mass shooting incident.

               Unfortunately, firearm manufactures have found ways to  
               enable the dangerous quick reloading that the California's  
               assault weapons law sought to ban.  For example, the  
               "bullet button" is a feature that enables the firearm owner  
               to use a bullet or other pointed object to quickly detach  
               and replace the weapon's ammunition magazine. Because the  
               use of a bullet or other "tool" is required to remove the  
               magazine, the sale of 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.<1> 
          
               The California Brady Campaign Chapters support clarifying  
               and strengthening California's assault weapons law as  
               proposed by SB 880.  The bill recasts existing law by  
               listing as assault weapons those firearms with  
               military-style features that do not have a fixed magazine.   
               A fixed magazine is defined as an ammunition feeding device  
               contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such  
               a manner that the device cannot be removed without  
               disassembly of the firearm action.  A weapon that does not  
               have a fixed magazine, as defined, and has any one of the  
               military-style features would be unlawful.  

               SB 880 would require any person who lawfully possessed from  
               January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2016 an assault weapon that  
               does not have a fixed magazine as defined in the bill to  
               register the weapon before July 1, 2017 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  

               -------------------------
               <1>
           Data provided by the California Department of Justice, December  
          8, 2014.







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               become prohibited from possessing firearms and assist law  
               enforcement in the tracing of crime guns.  

               The gun industry has taken advantage of an imprecise  
               definition to evade the intent of the law.  This loophole  
               must be closed and accordingly, the California Brady  
               Campaign Chapters are in strong support of SB 880.
          
          7.  Argument in Opposition
          
          According to the Firearms Policy Coalition: 

               SB 880 attempts to subvert long-standing law regarding the  
               definition of "detachable magazine" and "fixed magazine".  
               It relies on unclear, undefined language such as "without  
               disassembly of the action" or "does not have a fixed  
               magazine" and seeks to prohibit the purchase, inheritance,  
               sale, transfer, transport, importation and manufacture of  
               the most common and popular protected weapons of the modern  
               era. 



                 SB 880 is the largest gun-ban in California history
                                          
               SB 880 would immediately ban and force the registration of  
               millions of semi-automatic rifles in common use and  
               protected under the Second Amendment to the United States  
               Constitution.  With guns sales and the shooting sports  
               hitting new heights, SB 880 will result in potentially  
               millions of firearms being taken off the shelves for sale,  
               out of estates for bequests and ban the lawful transfer of  
               collections and firearms. 

               By moving the goal posts on millions of its own residents,  
               California would create new criminal liability for hundreds  
               of thousands of Californians and California visitors --  
               including shooting sports competitors -- without so much as  
               a simple outreach program, public service announcement, or  
               mandate that DOJ update the years-outdated (and, in some  
               cases, grossly misleading) information it promulgates in  
               its publications and on its website but refuses to correct  
               in spite of the real consequences to law-abiding people.









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               SB 880 creates overnight felons for mere possession,  
               transfer, transport or inheritance of common, protected  
               items, creating a crisis for residents and visitors who  
               have been law abiding all their lives and could lose all  
               they have worked for-by simply exercising a fundamental  
               right. 

                  SB 880 may actually create a stock of millions of new  
                 "Assault Weapons" that will remain for generations
                                             
               Counter-intuitively, while some people may get caught as  
               overnight felons, there are others who will be engaged and  
               will take advantage of the opportunity to register hundreds  
               of thousands or even millions of firearms- thereby having  
               state sanction to have whatever magazine style or  
               politically incorrect cosmetic features they like.  Despite  
               the ban, these will remain in the civilian inventory for  
               many decades- all with the proper documentation and  
               blessing of the Attorney General. 
                                          


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