BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 880|
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 880
          Author:   Hall (D) and Glazer (D), et al.
          Amended:  5/17/16  
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  5-2, 4/19/16
           AYES:  Hancock, Glazer, Leno, Liu, Monning
           NOES:  Anderson, Stone

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  5-2, 5/16/16
           AYES:  Lara, Beall, Hill, McGuire, Mendoza
          NOES:  Bates, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   Firearms:  assault weapons


          SOURCE:    Author
          
          DIGEST:  This bill: (1) amends 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) defines  
          "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) provides 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) requires  
          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 specified; (5)  
          provides that this registration be submitted online, as  








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          specified; (6) authorizes DOJ to charge a fee of up to $15 per  
          person but not to exceed the reasonable processing costs of the  
          DOJ for this registration; and (7) requires DOJ to establish  
          procedures for the purpose of carrying out this registration  
          requirement and specifies that these procedures shall be exempt  
          from the Administrative Procedure Act.

          ANALYSIS:  
          
          Existing law: 

          1)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.)

          2)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.)

          3)Defines "assault weapon" as one of certain specified rifles  
            and pistols (Penal Code  30510) or as:

             a)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity  
               to accept a detachable magazine and has at least one of the  
               following: a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously  
               beneath the action of the weapon; a thumbhole stock; a  
               vertical handgrip; a folding or telescoping stock; a  
               grenade launcher or flare launcher; a flash suppressor; or,  
               a forward handgrip;
             b)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed  
               magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;
             c)   A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall  
               length of less than 30 inches; 
             d)   A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine and has at least one of the following:  
               a threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor,  
               forward handgrip, or silencer; a second handgrip; 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  








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               encloses the barrel; or, the capacity to accept a  
               detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol  
               grip;
             e)   A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has  
               the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;
             f)   A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:  
               a folding or telescoping stock; and a pistol grip that  
               protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon,  
               thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip;
             g)   A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a  
               detachable magazine; and
             h)   Any shotgun that has a revolving cylinder.  (Penal Code  
                30515.)

          4)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.)

          5)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.)

          6)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.)

          7)Defines a ".50 BMG rifle and cartridge," as specified.  (Penal  
            Code  30525, 30530.)









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          8)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.)

          9)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: 

          1)Amends 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." 

          2)Defines "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)Provides 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:

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

          4)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 defined in  
            Section 30515, 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 before  
            January 1, 2018, with the DOJ pursuant to those procedures  








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            that the DOJ may establish.

             a)   Registrations shall be submitted electronically via the  
               Internet utilizing a public-facing application made  
               available by the DOJ.
             b)   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.
             c)   The DOJ 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 DOJ.  The fee shall be deposited in the  
               Dealers' Record of Sale Special Account.
             d)   The DOJ shall establish procedures for the purpose of  
               carrying out this subdivision.  These procedures shall be  
               exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act.

          Background
          
          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, Chapter 129,  
          Statutes of 1999,  7 et seq) 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  








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          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  
               and any one of six enumerated additional assault  








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               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 amends 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."  
           It also defines, "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 also requires 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  








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          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 DOJ  
          pursuant to those procedures that the DOJ may establish.   


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   Yes


          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the fiscal  
          impact includes: 


                Registration process:  Estimated costs of $1.7 million in  
               FY 2016-17, $1.5 million in FY 2017-18, and $37,000 (DROS  
               Fund*/General Fund) annually thereafter, to be fully offset  
               by fees collected from registrants once fully implemented.  
               Staff notes the DROS Fund is structurally imbalanced, and  
               current revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of  
               this bill. As a result, a General Fund appropriation may be  
               required to enable completion of the activities within the  
               timelines prescribed. 
                State prisons:  Potentially significant increase in  
               annual state incarceration costs (General Fund) to the  
               extent the narrower definition of "assault weapon" results  
               in additional firearms violations. For every 10 new  
               commitments to state prison (five each for manufacturing  
               and possession), additional annual costs of $290,000,  
               compounding to $1.2 million for overlapping sentences  
               assuming the middle term of the triads for violations of  
               both manufacturing and possession.
                Local agencies:  Potential future increase in local  
               enforcement and incarceration costs for unlawful possession  
               or sale/manufacture of assault weapons.
                Firearms sales:  Potential near-term loss of sales tax  
               revenue of $1.6 million (General Fund) per 10 percent of  
               annual rifle sales in California. Future year impact could  
               be somewhat mitigated to the extent consumers shift to  
               purchases of alternative firearms.
                APPS enforcement:  Unknown, potential increase in DOJ  








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               enforcement costs (Special Fund*) to the extent additional  
               persons are placed on the armed prohibited persons list  
               resulting from the provisions of this measure.

          *Dealers' Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account - Appropriations  
          staff notes that the DROS Account is structurally imbalanced,  
          with an estimated reserve balance of less than $1 million by  
          year-end FY 2016-17. As a result, an appropriation from another  
          fund source, potentially the General Fund, may be required to  
          support the activities required by this bill.


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/17/16)


          Kamala Harris, California Attorney General
          American Academy of Pediatrics
          Bend the Arc
          Brotherhood Crusade
          California Academy of Family Physicians
          California Chapter of the American College of Emergency  
                    Physicians
          California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun  
                    Violence
          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
          Community Clinic Association
          Courage Campaign
          Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles
          Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
          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!








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          Several Individuals


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified05/17/16)


          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
          One Individual

          ARGUMENTS 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.

               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  








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               "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 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  
               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.











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          ARGUMENTS 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.

               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








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               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. 

          Prepared by:Jessica Devencenzi / PUB. S. /
          5/18/16 16:27:48


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