BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    


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                       THIRD READING

Bill No:  SB 23
Author:   Perata (D), et al
Amended:  4/6/99
Vote:     21

AYES:  Vasconcellos, Burton, Johnston, McPherson
NOT VOTING:  Polanco, Rainey

AYES:  Johnston, Alpert, Bowen, Burton, Escutia, Karnette,  
  McPherson, Perata, Vasconcellos
NOES:  Johnson, Kelley, Leslie, Mountjoy

  SUBJECT  :    Firearms:  assault weapons

  SOURCE  :     Handgun Control

  DIGEST  :    This bill:

1.Provides that it is a crime, punishable by an alternative  
  misdemeanor/ felony ("wobbler"), commencing January 1,  
  2000, for any person to manufacture or cause to be  
  manufactured, import into the state, keep for sale, or  
  offer to expose for sale, or give, or lend any  
  large-capacity magazine (i.e., any ammunition feeding  
  device with the capacity to accept more than ten rounds),  
  as specified.

2.Adds a new "generic" definition list of assault weapons  
  in a new section of the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons  


                                                       SB 23

  Control Act of 1989, as specified (generally punishable  
  as a misdemeanor/felony).

3.Expands the existing Roberti-Roos exemption for use of  
  assault weapons for peace officers while on duty to allow  
  specified peace officers to use and possess assault  
  weapons on and off duty and after retirement if that  
  weapon is transferred to the retiring officer by the  
  agency he or she is retiring from.

4.Makes numerous related changes.

  ANALYSIS  :    Existing law, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons  
Control Act of 1989, generally prohibits the sale,  
manufacture, distribution, transport, import, possession,  
or lending of assault weapons in California.  Violations of  
the Act are generally a felony; possession is punishable as  
a misdemeanor/felony (with an "exception" punishable as an  
infraction).  The Act contains a list that enumerates the  
designated semiautomatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns that  
are assault weapons and subject to the Act.

The Roberti-Roos Act contains legislative intent language  
which concludes that it is not the intent of the  
Legislature in enacting Roberi-Roos "?to place restrictions  
on the use of those weapons which are primarily designed  
and intended for hunting, target practice, and other  
legitimate sports or recreational activities."

The Attorney General is authorized to file a petition in  
Superior Court to declare that additional weapons are to be  
subject to the act's prohibitions on the basis that those  
weapons are essentially identical to weapons on the list of  
prohibited assault weapons.

Persons who lawfully possessed an assault weapon prior to  
June 1, 1989, were allowed a period of time to register  
such weapons with the State Department of Justice (DOJ) and  
to keep such weapons subject to specified restrictions.   
Any persons lawfully owning weapons subsequently added by  
the Superior Court to the prohibited category of weapons  
will be allowed a period of time to register and keep those  
weapons as well.


                                                       SB 23

Existing law exempts "the sale to, purchase by, or  
possession of assault weapons by DOJ, police departments,  
sheriffs' offices, marshals' offices, the State Department  
of Corrections (DOC), the State Department of the  
California Highway Patrol (CHP), district attorneys'  
offices, or the military or naval forces of this state or  
of the United States for use in the discharge of their  
official duties" and provides that nothing shall "prohibit  
the possession or use of assault weapons by sworn members  
of these agencies when on duty and the use is within the  
scope of their duties."

Existing law contains various penalties for the use of a  
machinegun or assault weapon in a crime.

Existing law provides that if a firearm is used in  
specified crimes, a penalty enhancement applies of an  
additional ten or twenty years, or life.

This bill:

1.Makes all but the possession of a "detachable  
  large-capacity magazine" a crime:

  Makes it an alternative misdemeanor/felony, commencing  
  January 1, 2000, for any person who manufactures or  
  causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps  
  for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, or  
  lends (except to any person licensed pursuant to Section  
  12071 of the Penal Code), any detachable large-capacity  
  magazine.  Defines "large-capacity magazine" to mean any  
  ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept  
  more than ten rounds (both centerfire and rimfire/.22  
  caliber), but "shall not be construed to include a  
  feeding device that has been permanently altered so that  
  it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds nor shall it  
  include any .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device."

  Exempts from that general prohibition "The sale to, or  
  purchase of, any large-capacity ammunition feeding device  
  by, any federal, state, county, city and county, or city  
  agency that is charged with the enforcement of any law  
  for use in the discharge of their official duties when on  
  duty and the use is authorized by the agency and is  


                                                       SB 23

  within the course and scope of their duties" and "sale  
  to, or purchase of any large-capacity ammunition feeding  
  device by, a licensed gun dealer."

  The bill also contains the following exemptions and  

   A.    The loan of a lawfully possessed large-capacity  
      magazine between two individuals if all of the  
      following conditions are met:

      (1)      The person being loaned the large-capacity  
         magazine is not prohibited by Section 12021,  
         12021.1, or 12010 of this code or Section 8100 or  
         8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code from  
         possessing firearms or ammunition.

      (2)      The loan of the large-capacity magazine  
         occurs at a place or location where the possession  
         of the large-capacity magazine is not otherwise  
         prohibited and the person who lends the  
         large-capacity magazine remains in the accessible  
         vicinity of the person to whom the large-capacity  
         magazine is loaned.

   B.    The importation of a large-capacity magazine by a  
      person who lawfully possessed the large-capacity  
      magazine in the state prior to January 1, 2000,  
      lawfully took it out of the state, and is returning  
      to the state with the large-capacity magazine  
      previously lawfully possessed in the state.

2.Adds a new "generic" definition list of assault weapons  
  in a new section of the existing Roberti-Roos Assault  
  Weapons Control Act of 1989, as follows:

   A.    A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the  
      capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one  
      of the following:

      (1)      A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously  
         beneath the action of the weapon.
      (2)      A thumbhole stock.
      (3)      A second handgrip.


                                                       SB 23

      (4)      A folding or telescoping stock.
      (5)      A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
      (6)      A threaded barrel capable of accepting a  
         flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer.

   B.    A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed  
      magazine with the capacity to accept more than ten  

   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 any of the  

      (1)      A threaded barrel
      (2)      A second vertical handgrip.
      (3)      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, except a slide that encloses the  
      (4)      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 ten rounds.

   F.    A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the  

         (1) A folding or telescoping stock.
         (2) 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.

   H.    Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

3.Adds to the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of  
  1989 provisions to allow for the registration of those  


                                                       SB 23

  "new" assault weapons and makes other changes, as  

   A.    Allows one-year from the effective date of the new  
      "assault weapons" added b this bill to register those  
      weapons as assault weapons.

   B.    Provides that the penalty for the first-time  
      possession of one of the new generic assault weapons  
      shall be punished as:

      an infraction punishable for a fine of up to $500, if  
      the person was found in possession of no more than  
      two firearms in compliance with the usual  
      requirements of the lawful possession of an assault  
      weapon and the person

      (1)      Proves that he or she lawfully possessed the  
         assault weapon prior to the dates it was defined  
         as an assault weapon pursuant to the new section  
         added by this bill.

      (2)      Is not in possession of an assault weapon  
         pursuant to the previous definitions in  

      (3)      He or she has not previously been convicted  
         of violating this section.

      (4)      He or she was found to be in possession of  
         the assault weapons within one year following the  
         end of the one-year registration period  
         established by this bill.

      (5)      He or she has since registered the firearms  
         and any other lawfully obtained firearms defined  
         by this bill, as specified.

4.Expands the existing Roberti-Roos exemption for law  
  enforcement, as follows:

  Deletes the limitation on the existing exemption for  
  specified officers that the possession or use only  
  applies when on duty and the use is within the scope of  


                                                       SB 23

  their duties; instead allows peace officers of DOJ, local  
  police, sheriffs departments, marshals offices, DOC, CHP,  
  district attorneys offices, and the military, to possess  
  or use assault weapons whether on or off duty, and  
  possession by a person "retired from service with a law  
  enforcement agency," when that assault weapon is  
  transferred to the individual by the agency upon his or  
  her retirement.

5.This bill makes a number of related changes to law and  
  contains a severability clause; it also states that it  
  was the original intent of the Roberti-Roos:  "?to ban  
  all assault weapons, regardless of their name, model  
  number, or manufacture" and that "It is the purpose of  
  this act [SB 23] to effectively achieve the Legislature's  
  intent to prohibit all assault weapons."

  DOJ Costs Created by this Bill

  The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989  
requires DOJ to "conduct a public education and  
notification program regarding the registration of assault  
weapons, including outreach of local law enforcement  
agencies and utilization of public service announcements in  
a variety of media approaches, to ensure maximum publicity  
of the limited forgiveness period of the registration  

DOJ is to "develop posters describing gun owners'  
responsibilities under this chapter which shall be posted  
in a conspicuous place in every licensed gun store in the  
state during the forgiveness period."

The costs of that program which cannot be absorbed by DOJ  
are to be paid for from the Dealer's Record of Sale (DROS)  
account, which contains the fees paid by applicants to buy  
firearms and pay for background checks -- upon  
appropriation by the Legislature.

Since Roberti-Roos was enacted, the DROS account has been  
limited by SB 670 (Chapter 901, Statutes of 1996), which  
limited the maximum DROS fee to $14 -- with a cost of  
living increased allowed -- and limited the use of the DROS  
fee account monies to specified items pertaining to  


                                                       SB 23

background checks.

Given those existing limitations, the funds available in  
the DROS account may not be so readily available in 2000 as  
they may have been in 1990.  Therefore, there may need to  
be future discussions about the costs of implementing this  
bill and how DOJ may be able to pay those costs.

  Prior Legislation

  AB 2560 (Perata, 1997-1998 Session):  Senate Floor Vote:   
24-12.  Vetoed by the Governor.

Senate Floor vote:

AYES:  Alpert, Ayala, Burton, Calderon, Costa, Dills,  
  Greene, Hayden, Hughes, Johnston, Karnette, Kopp,  
  Lockyer, Maddy, McPherson, O'Connell, Polanco, Rosenthal,  
  Schiff, Sher, Solis, Thompson, Vasconcellos, Watson
NOES:  Brulte, Hurtt, Johannessen, Johnson, Kelley, Knight,  
  Lewis, Monteith, Mountjoy, Peace, Rainey, Wright

Votes for current members of the Senate who voted on AB  
2560 as an Assemblymember:

AYES:  Bowen, Escutia, Figueroa, Murray, Ortiz, Perata
NOES:  Baca, Morrow, Poochigian

AB 23 (1997-98 Session):  Senate Floor Vote:  23-14.  Died  
on the Assembly Floor.

SB 46X (1993-94 Session).  Failed passage on the Assembly  

SB 263 - Chapter 954, Statutes of 1991.

AB 257 - Chapter 19, Statutes of 1989.

SB 292 - Chapter 18, Statutes of 1989.

SB 1339 (1997-98 Session).  Provisions deleted on Assembly  
Floor (re magazine capacity).

SB 1128 (1993-94 Session).  Died on Assembly Floor (re  


                                                       SB 23

magazine capacity).

AB 334 (1989-90 Session).  Died in Conference Committee (re  
magazine capacity).

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

                Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

  Major Provisions            1999-2000           2000-01           
  2001-02            Fund

  Felonies & sentence     Unknown increased costs, in excess  
of        General
Enhancements              $150 annually, and potentially  
                                     For incarceration in  
state prison

Misdemeanors              Unknown increased mandated,  
nonreim-     Local
                                      bursable costs for  
county jail and 

DOJ registration and        $885                 $630        
     unknown       Special*
public education           Potentially fully offset by  
increased fee

Courts                           Probably less than $50  
annually for
                      Increased workload

*Dealers' Record of Sale Account
**Trial Court Trust Fund

  SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/28/99)

Legal Community Against Violence
California Nurses Association


                                                       SB 23

Lutheran Office of Public Policy
Los Gatos Town Council
Chief of Police, Town of Los Gatos and City of Monte Sereno
Los Angeles County District Attorney
City of Oakland
Orange County Citizens for the Prevention of Gun Violence
League of Women Voters in California

  OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  5/28/99)

California Rifle and Pistol Association
National Rifle Association
individual letters

  ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The provisions in this bill as  
currently amended essentially reflect another version of AB  
23 (Perata), which died last year on the Assembly Floor  
while on concurrence in Senate amendments, and AB 2560  
(Perata), which was amended with further revised provisions  
of AB 23 and which was vetoed by the Governor last year.   
The author indicates the following regarding this bill:

"The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989  
restricts assault weapons in California.  In order to add  
weapons to the banned list, the Attorney General must file  
a petition with the Superior Court.  For example, the DOJ  
has been engaged in an ongoing court action to add a  
'copycat' weapon - the Colt Sporter - to the list of  
restricted weapons.

"In 1994, Congress enacted a generic ban on assault weapons  
that relied in part on cosmetic appearances.  It is clear  
that focusing on cosmetic aspects of the gun's appearance  
is not a comprehensive approach.  Nor does it really get at  
the whole problem.

"It is clear that in the case of rifles, an assault weapon  
is a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has one of the  
characteristics added in my bill, such as a vertical  
handgrip or a folding or telescoping stock."

Adding an exemption for those state peace officers would  
allow them to use both the original Roberti-Roos listed  
weapons and those assault weapons that are included in the  


                                                       SB 23

generic definition added by this bill.  CAUSE states that  
those officers should be exempted from the prohibitions on  
use and possession of assault weapons and includes the  
following reasons for such an exemption:

"These six categories of specialized peace officers  
represent members of law enforcement under existing law  
currently use weapons that would be deemed "assault  
weapons" under SB 23.  While these "tools" are not always  
used during the course of their duties, it is important to  
remember that these specialized peace officers are  
responsible for serving high risk warrants, patrolling vast  
expanses of land and for game control, where in some  
instances animals have attacked humans.  CAUSE knows that  
under these situations it is not only responsible to equip  
these peace officers with these firearms it would be  
irresponsible not to do so."

The State Parks Peace Officers Association has also  
written in support of adding those officers as part of an  
expanded peace officer exemption and state that those  
officers "no less than any others working dangerous areas  
and conditions, should be allowed access to whatever  
means and tools are available to protect and preserve  
life and property."

  ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    The California Rifle and Pistol  
Association letter in opposition to this bill includes the  

"The definitions of 'Assault Weapons' status in proposed  
penal code section 12276.1 are far in excess of similar  
definitions in the federal 'Assault Weapons' law, and would  
sweep in traditional hunting and recreational firearms that  
no one actually familiar with firearms would consider to be  
'Assault Weapons'.

"Given the use limitations placed on 'Assault Weapons'  
under exiting state law, the very restrictive definitions  
in this proposed section would unfairly impact thousands of  
lawful firearms owners like those who enjoy hunting and  
other firearms related sports on public lands such as the  
state and national forests. . . At a minimum, conformance  
to the attribute based definitions already in federal law  


                                                       SB 23

would lead to better public understanding of the state law  
and facilitate enforcement by officers in the field.

"CRPA believes the 10 round ammunition capacity limit for  
magazines is inappropriate as many firearms come factory  
equipped with larger magazines and, in order to compete in  
national marksmanship competitions, 20 rounds is required.   
There are million of magazines currently owned that have  
capacities greater than 10 rounds.  Will the state  
reimburse the owners of these magazines for the costs of  
having them modified to accept no more than 10 rounds or  
will the state 'take' these magazines through confiscation  
or others means?"  

RJG:cm  5/29/99   Senate Floor Analyses 


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